ThatsRacin

NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr. wins the Axalta 400 at Pocono

Martin Truex Jr. ended a nearly two-year winless streak by holding off Kevin Harvick to win Sunday’s Axalta 400 at Pocono Raceway and all-but locking in a berth in this season’s championship Chase.
Martin Truex Jr. ended a nearly two-year winless streak by holding off Kevin Harvick to win Sunday’s Axalta 400 at Pocono Raceway and all-but locking in a berth in this season’s championship Chase. Getty Images

Martin Truex Jr. has led the most laps in the past four Sprint Cup Series races.

On Sunday, he finally got a win to show for it.

Truex ended a nearly two-year winless streak by holding off Kevin Harvick to win Sunday’s Axalta 400 at Pocono Raceway and all-but locking in a berth in this season’s championship Chase.

Truex’s victory is the third of his career and ended Hendrick Motorsports’ five-race winning streak at Pocono.

Jimmie Johnson finished third, Joey Logano was fourth and Kurt Busch was fifth.

Turning point

On a restart with 16 of 160 laps remaining, Truex held off a furious charge from Johnson and burst away from the rest of the field, building up an enormous lead as the raced wound to its conclusion.

Three who mattered

Martin Truex Jr.: Fast cars fix everything. Sooner or later having the fastest car in the field was going to earn Truex a trip to Victory Lane.

Kevin Harvick: Picked up his eighth second-place finish this season in 14 races.

Paul Menard: The race started poorly and only went downhill for Menard. He was caught speeding on pit road and was flagged for speeding again while he was on pit road serving the penalty for the first infraction. Shortly thereafter, Menard was forced to pit under green again with a flat tire.

Observations

<bullet> What’s most impressive for Furniture Row Racing is the fact the organization is basically a satellite team for Richard Childress Racing and yet this season, FRR has performed head and shoulders better than RCR’s own three Cup series teams.

<bullet> Logano showed a lot of resiliency on Sunday. He had to start from the rear of the field after his team made a rear gear change before the race. After battling through the field, Logano was sent to the back again after getting caught speeding on pit road. He rallied from a lap down to finish fourth.

<bullet> Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet failed pre-race inspection Sunday morning three times before getting cleared. If NASCAR follows typical procedure, the team will lose 15 minutes of practice time next Friday at Michigan.

They said it

“Well we finally got it. That is all I can say. We finally got it.” – race winner Martin Truex Jr.

Notes

Harvick still up front: Kevin Harvick would like more wins but can you really be all that unhappy about eight second-place finishes in the first 14 races of the season? Or that he and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team has finished outside the Top 10 just once this season?

“I think everybody is probably frustrated that we didn’t win, but I think it’s frustrated in a good way. It’s very rare that you can come to the race track and be in those positions every week,” Harvick said.

“I think as you look at the situations, I think second is better than 10th. It’s a frustration that’s good in a way, and you want to be frustrated because we’re not winning, but in the end, you also don’t want to be greedy, either.”

Busch on the move: Kyle Busch got his best finish since his return to competition with a ninth-place effort on Sunday. At one point late in the race, Busch was running as high as second.

On his journey to the Top 30 in points – which would allow him to use a win to get in the Chase – Busch has improved to 39th, 151 behind 30th.

“Those last two cautions didn’t help us; we just couldn’t get going on those last couple of restarts,” he said. “We’ll take it and move on to Michigan.”

N@SCAR

Three tweets from Sunday’s race:

Next race

Quicken Loans 400

Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.

When: 1 p.m. Sunday,

TV: Fox Sports 1.

Radio: MRN.

Last year’s winner: Jimmie Johnson

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