A week ago, Martin Truex Jr. said his team didn’t have winning speed but was hopeful his Furniture Row Racing group was gaining on it.
Flash forward to Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway, and Truex was celebrating in Victory Lane. The reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion inherited the lead by staying on track when a debris caution was called with 22 laps to go. From there, Truex, on older tires, held serve on three additional restarts and went unchallenged to the checkered flag upon driving away with seven laps to go.
“You’re always concerned on restarts, you just never know, and so much can happen on those things,” said Truex. “Luckily, we were able to get a good one. Can’t say enough about everybody on this team, Cole [Pearn, crew chief] and all the guys really did a good job last night. We had a good practice yesterday; really it’s been a good weekend overall.
“Just kind of been a sane weekend, I feel like we’re getting back to what we were doing last year. Thankful for them, everybody in Denver, everybody at TRD, Bass Pro [Shops], 5-hour [Energy] for all their support this season on this racecar.
“This is a heck of a day. The 4, the 18, the 78, we went at it all day and fortunately we came out on top today, so pretty awesome.”
Truex led Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski across the finish line for his second win of the season. The victory is also Truex’s second at Pocono and 17th of his career.
Busch was the highest-finishing driver who had four fresh tires. He led 13 laps on the day.
“We got tires for our final stop, and we were leading the 78 and the 4 and then the caution came out for debris in [Turn] 1 that looked like a shoe booty and then we decided to pit and put tires on again because we had 10, 11 laps on tires and that’s where we got burned in this race — exact situation — last year, and so we didn’t want to make the same mistake again,” said Busch. “But once I got back there I couldn’t pass those guys, was stuck where I was at. The four tires didn’t do anything today, was certainly all about being out front.
“Overall, good day. The M&M’s Camry was fast; we were up front, we led some laps. We were with the 4, with the 78, with the 42 — put any which one of us in whatever order you want and that’s how it was going to end up. It seemed like that’s what we all had today.”
Harvick led the most laps at 89 and was among those who stayed out with Truex and completed the race on older tires.
Completing the top 10 were Ryan Blaney, who started from the pole, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott.
Aside from the two stage breaks, the race was clean for much of the day. Inside the final 50 laps three drivers — Darrell Wallace Jr., Matt DiBenedetto, and Kasey Kahne — fell out of the race due to various mechanical issues.
Denny Hamlin exited on Lap 148 after getting loose and sliding up into Alex Bowman in Turn 1 and then damaging the nose of his Toyota. Bowman suffered right side damage and limped home to a 27th-place finish.
The final caution came on Lap 152 when contact with Joey Logano sent Erik Jones spinning to the inside wall on the frontstretch, setting up the last restart with seven laps to go.
There were six cautions for 23 laps during the race and 11 lead changes among seven drivers.