Martin Truex Jr. turned in a performance for the ages Sunday night on his way to winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Truex started on the pole and led 588 of 600 miles – the most in one race in NASCAR history – to win for the first time this season and virtually secure himself a place in the postseason Chase. He also set three Coca-Cola 600 records: 392 of 400 laps led, average speed (160.44 mph) and time of race (3 hours, 44 minutes, 8 seconds).
“This is a weekend you dream about,” said Truex.
Kevin Harvick was second, while Jimmie Johnson finished third. Denny Hamlin was fourth and Brad Keselowski fifth.
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The only laps Truex didn’t lead were during pit stops and two laps late in the race when Johnson slipped past him after a restart on Lap 345. That caution, caused by debris on the backstretch, came with 55 laps remaining and meant that fuel might have become a concern. But Truex had plenty in his the tank of his No. 78 Toyota as he quickly passed Johnson and was never threatened again.
When the green flag dropped, the race was for all intents and purposes over. Truex, starting from the pole, quickly drove away from the field and was able to do that whenever he needed to for the remainder of the race.
Three who mattered
Martin Truex Jr.: Was fast early in the race, in the middle of the race, and at the end of the race. Among the most dominant performances in NASCAR history.
Kevin Harvick: He wasn’t completely unhappy with what he said was a 10th-place car. After struggling during the daylight portion of the race, Harvick rallied to finish second.
Jimmie Johnson: If there was any consolation for Johnson, he led the most laps after Truex – a grand total of five.
▪ The anticipated rain held off for the race (although it briefly drizzled for a few minutes about 30 minutes before the green flag flew). The start of the race was moved up 10 minutes just in case, but the bad weather never materialized.
▪ Tony Stewart, running his final 600, had to start at the rear of the field for using making unapproved body modifications. Stewart finished 24th.
▪ Kasey Kahne had engine problems early in the race and never recovered. He dropped two laps down and eventually finished 22nd, four laps behind. Kahne’s winless streak has now reached 60 races.
▪ A member of Joey Logano’s crew jumped over the wall too soon on a late pit stop. That cost Logano a drive-through penalty and any chance he had of being in contention at the end. Logano, who won last fall’s race at Charlotte and the All-Star race last week, finished ninth.
▪ Sloppiness coming into pit road also cost 2015 600 champion Carl Edwards. He was penalized for speeding while entering pit road – then was caught speeding while serving his pass through penalty. He ended up 18th, one lap down.
They said it
“I kind of feel like he was playing with us.” – Johnson, on Truex’s dominance.
Three tweets from Sunday’s race:
VIDEO EMBED BELOW
Where: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa.
When: 1 p.m., Sunday.
TV: Fox Sports Network.
Radio: Motor Racing Network.