Home Sports Professional Truex survives wild finish to win Coca-Cola 600

Truex survives wild finish to win Coca-Cola 600

Austin Dillon’s “gas man” pulls out temporarily to make way for the rear tire changer (right), coming around. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

By David Rogers. May 26, 2019. CHARLOTTE, NC – Call him Mr. Clutch. Martin Truex, Jr. fell back on the last restart, dipped inside on a four-wide move to edge into the lead, then had to survive an aggressive push from behind by Team Penske rival Joey Logano — all in the last few laps of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

COVER IMAGE: A spectacular “flyover” and fireworks treated Coca-Cola 600 fans. Photographic image by David Scearce for Blowing Rock News

Joe Gibbs Racing finished with two of the top three finishers in Truex, Jr. (first) and Kyle Busch (third), but Hendrick Motorsports may have been the top team with all four entries in the top 10: Chase Elliott (4th), Alex Bowman (7th), Jimmie Johnson (8th) and William Byron (9th).

In his television interview afterwards, Busch was quick to credit Truex, Jr. as having the fastest car on this night, at least. Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski won Stage 1 and Stage 2, but after some early contact with the wall, Truex came back to win Stage 3 and dominate much of the final stage.

The “big one” occurred on Lap 316 when Kyle Larson (#42) lost control and took out Clint Bowyer — with the resulting pileup causing damage to Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, and Ryan Preece.

Tires came at a premium — with only nine sets of tires for the entire race and 16 cautions, crew chiefs had to be careful how soon they deployed a fresh set of rubber. Photographic image by David Scearce for Blowing Rock News

While the last yellow flag came out on Lap 391 and race restarted with five laps to go, “the big one” occurred on Lap 316 when Kyle Larson ran into some handling problems, lost control, took out Curt Bowyer, then pitched around the track with a “domino effect” to involve a total of five cars, including Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon and Ryan Preece. The initial contact between Larson’s #42 and Bowyer’s #14 sent Bowyer hard into the outside wall and Larson spinning out of control through the front stretch infield.

Truex was smiling afterwards when recalling his taking the lead by the end of the first lap when the race restarted after the last caution — with how one TV interviewer asked about how it felt to have “…Joey Logano stuffed up under your (rear) bumper?”

“I didn’t feel the rear tires on the ground, I’ll tell you that much,” the winner beamed. “(I was) just trying to hold it straight and not let him to my outside going into (Turn) 1, so that’s kind of what I was trying to do. But man, what a race. Up and down, you just never know what can happen in these things. We were so good early on, blew that tire, hit the fence and I’m like, ‘We’re done. How are we going to fix this thing?’ But the guys worked hard, fixed it up.”

It was not unusual to see cars running four wide, even into the corners. Photographic image by David Scearce for Blowing Rock News

Busch might well have put the #18 in Victory Lane had it not been for a few incidents during the race, including a clash with the #17 of Ricky Stenhouse in Stage 1. Afterward, Busch gave a nod to both Truex and perennial rival Kevin Harvick for being fast on this night.

“I thought that through much the race we had a fast car,” Busch acknowledged. “We were there. We led some laps, we ran around. The 4 (Harvick) was fast, the 19 (Truex) was fast. The 19 was the fastest car, so I’m not sure what they had different than us, but obviously we were just off a little bit, otherwise I felt like we had a race-winning car.”

Busch and Truex are both teammates with Joe Gibbs Racing. It was a landmark day for Gibbs, who was recently named to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Seventeen of the forty cars that started the race finished on the lead lap.

Unofficial results

  1. Martin Truex, Jr.
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
  6. Chris Buescher
  7. Alex Bowman
  8. Jimmie Johnson
  9. Kevin Harvick (#4) was a contender all night. Photographic image by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News

    William Byron

  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Aric Almirola
  12. Corey Lajoie
  13. Ryan Blaney
  14. Paul Menard
  15. David Ragan
  16. Ryan Newman
  17. Denny Hamlin
  18. Daniel Suarez
  19. Brad Keselowski
  20. Matt Tifft
  21. Daniel Hemric
  22. Michael McDowell
  23. Ty Dillon
  24. Pre-race activities included the military and the U.S. flag for the national anthem. Photographic image by David Scearce for Blowing Rock News

    Clint Bowyer

  25. Bubba Wallace
  26. Parker Kligerman
  27. Kurt Busch
  28. Quinn Houff
  29. B J McLeod
  30. Reed Sorenson
  31. Ryan Preece
  32. Joey Gase
  33. Kyle Larson
  34. Austin Dillon
  35. Bayley Currey
  36. Ross Chastain
  37. Landon Cassill
  38. Cody Ware
  39. Matt DiBenedetto
  40. Erik Jones

 

 

 

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