Truex Jr. Dominates At Kentucky
SPARTA, Ky-- In dominating fashion and battling NASCAR Overtime, Martin Truex Jr. was victorious in the Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway. Truex led a total of 152 laps.
“I thought we were dead. I thought we were done. It’s just – this is completely unbelievable. I’m so excited to win here. It felt like we had a shot last year and it got away from us on fuel mileage and just wanted to win here so so bad after that. This is sweet redemption," said Truex Jr. "I got to say hi to Sherry (Pollex) back home. She didn’t make it this weekend, so I love you babe. And all these awesome fans, thank you guys so much for coming out. What an awesome crowd. I hope they enjoyed it and that was a whole lot of fun. “
This is Truex Jr's 10th career win. This is his third career win of 2017. He scores his 12th stage win of the season.
After starting in the back of the field due to inspection issues in qualifying and receiving a penalty on pit road in the early stages of the race, Kyle Larson finished second.
“Yeah, I sped on pit road there early. At the end of that first stage, so it felt very similar to Texas earlier this year. Didn’t get to qualify, had a pit road penalty at the end of the first stage. Went from the back to the front and then we had scuffs on one run and got the balance off pretty bad, but were able to put stickers on and charge back to the front. The Target Chevy was good," said Larson. "Truex though, never got to see him that last run he was upwards of 15 seconds ahead of us. That was pretty crazy. He has definitely been the fastest car all year. So, got some work to do, but if we can keep chasing him, I think we can beat him.”
Chase Elliott finished third after being a silent contender for much of the race.
"I had a really good roll there. Got to the bottom of the No. 77 and got far enough up next to him to get underneath him into (Turn) 1 and that got us a couple more spots there which was nice. From where we started the night to where we ended up was a big improvement with our Napa Chevrolet," said Elliott "Happy we could just execute well tonight. I don’t think we were as good at Martin (Truex, Jr.) or Kyle (Larson), but we did our jobs on pit road and I made the most of a good car.”
Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-10.
Only nine drivers finished on the lead lap. There were 10 lead changes among four different drivers. There were nine cautions for 39 laps. The time of race was two hours, 57 minutes, and 55 seconds. The average speed was 138.604 mph.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Overton's 301. The race will be broadcasted on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network at 3:00 p.m EDT.
Stage Points, No Problem for Truex Jr
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Having the most stage points of any driver does not phase Martin Truex, Jr.
Truex currently has 21 playoff points. He accumulated those points from his wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway. The other 11 playoff points have come from running consistently up front at the end of stages during the race.
“A guy like (Martin) Truex, he can almost lollygag all the way to Homestead with as many playoff points as he’s accumulated,” said Kurt Busch yesterday.
“Thats fine. They can say that. I don’t think we are. If we sit idle, don’t get those stage wins, let the points lead slip away, we will be at a disadvantage come playoff time. We want to continue to build on that. We obviously want to lead the regular season points. That’s going to be difficult to do. That’s a focus of ours. The bigger the lead we have at the start of the playoffs the better. We are not going to stop pushing,” said Truex Jr., in a rebuttal to that logic.
Truex accredited the teams ability to run up front and being competitive to why they have accumulated the stage and playoff points.
Truex currently sits second in points, only 13 points behind the points leader, Kyle Larson.
Blaney Scores First MENCS Victory at Pocono
After having radio issues for majority of the day, Ryan Blaney scored his first career victory at Pocono Raceway in the Axalta Presents The Poconos 400.
“I think it exceeds the dream a little bit. I grew up watching my dad race on this race track and it’s so cool to get the Wood Brothers in victory lane, number one, and to do it here at a race track that is really close to Ohio – a home to me – is pretty awesome,” said Blaney.
This is the Wood Brothers first victory since the 2011 Daytona 500. Blaney becomes the seventh different driver to score his first career victory with the Wood Brothers. This weekend marks the 99th victory for the team.
With 10 laps remaining, Blaney had a charge on then race-winner, Kyle Busch, with fresher tires. Busch tried to block Blaney on the front stretch and on the short-stretch, but Blaney was able to pass Busch. While Blaney and Busch were battling for the lead, Kevin Harvick was able to work his way to Blaney, but was unable to pass him in the remaining laps. Harvick was better than Blaney in the second turn, but was no match for Blaney on the rest of the track.
After having brake and engine issues early on in the race, Harvick was able to finish the race in the second position.
“I missed a shift from third-to-second and I have to thank the Roush Yates Engine shop for building a pretty sturdy engine because it should have blown up and it never blowed up,” said Harvick after rallying for a second place finish to winner Ryan Blaney,” said Harvick. “I had a tough time driving in the corner all day. We never could stop like we needed to all weekend, so you just had to be really careful with the brakes. If I'd over-drive it for a lap or two, the pedal would start going down, and then I was really at a deficit. So, I had to be very aware of where I let off every lap.”
After running up front for majority of the race, Erik Jones was able to finish in the third position for his best career Cup finish.
“Just happy, happy that we finally get a finish that we deserve. We ran top-five most of the day and had good strategy and it worked out. The last restart played out right into our hands and got it during the third (stage) and knew we had to hold those guys off and we’d be just fine,” said E. Jones. “It’s exciting, happy we had a fast race car. Wish we had a little bit faster one and then we could have gone up there and raced for it, but definitely a good day for us.”
Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Ky. Busch, and Matt Kenseth rounded-out the top-10.
Truex Jr maintains the points lead by one point over Larson. Harvick is 144 points behind Truex in third, Ky. Busch is 121 points behind the leader. and Keselowski rounds out the top-five in points only 130 points behind Truex.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a trip to Michigan International Raceway for the FireKeepers Casino 400. The race will run on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network with green flag flying shortly after 3:00 p.m. EDT.
CONCORD, N.C.— In a race that was dominated by Martin Truex, Jr., it was Austin Dillon who made it to victory lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600 after pushing the limits in the gas tank.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I can’t believe it. I was just really focused on those last laps. My fiancé wrote in the car, ‘When you keep God in the first place, he will take you places you never imagined.’ And, I never imagined to be here at the 600 Victory Lane,” said Dillon. “Praise the Lord and all these guys who work so hard; and my pit crew is the best on pit road. I love it for them. We’re in the Chase. It’s awesome.”
This is Dillon’s first career victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. This is Dillon’s first race with crew chief, Justin Alexander, on top of the pit-box. This is his first victory in 133 races. Dillon becomes the 10th driver to score his first career victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
When many drivers were hitting pit road for tires and fuel, Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, and Joey Logano stayed out in an effort to conserve fuel and make it to the end. Johnson had the race in the bag, but ran out of fuel going down the backstretch on lap 398. Dillon was able to conserve enough fuel to score the victory. Dillon ran out of fuel right as the checkered flag fell. Dillon was able to make it back around for one victory spin.
After running towards the front for majority of the night, Kyle Busch finished in the second position. Busch was able to get out front in the opening stage of the race to score the one playoff and 10 championship points. Busch led 63 laps, but fell short of victory to finish second at Charlotte.
“This M&M’s Camry was awesome tonight. It was just super fast. I mean we had one of the fastest cars all night long and then the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was probably the fastest car. There at the end, somehow we ran him down. You know he got a straightaway out on us, but there that last 100 laps we were able to get back to him and pass him so you know that was promising for us there at the end in order to get a second-place finish, but man just so so disappointed,” said Busch. “I don’t know. We ran our own race. We did what we needed to do and it wasn’t – it wasn’t the right game. We come up short and finish second.”
After dominating majority of the race, Truex Jr was unable to catch Dillon on fresh tires. On his final march to the lead, Truex used up his tires quickly and was unable to catch Ky. Busch and A. Dillon. Truex was able to finish in the third position after leading 233 of the 400 laps. With his performance tonight, Truex was able to snag the points lead from Kyle Larson.
“That stings a little bit, but can’t say enough about the guys on the team and everybody in Denver. Everybody on this Bass Pro Toyota did a heck of a job today. We just – we missed it a little bit on our last adjustment. I think if not for that we probably could’ve gotten the 3 (Austin Dillon), said Truex. “And then lapped traffic is just so tough here. There’s a few guys out there that you don’t ever know where they’re going to be when you get to the corner and it cost you so much time trying to pass them, ultimately that’s what got us. It is what it is. Like I said, we’re proud of everybody at TRD, at Toyota, Bass Pro and all the partners. Just came up a little short tonight.”
Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Newman, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top-10.
The Coca-Cola 600 was stopped shortly after lap 143 due to a brief rain shower. The red flag lasted one hour, 36 minutes, and 59 seconds for track drying operation. The caution flew a total of nine times for 53 laps. There were 23 lead changes among 10 different drivers.
Truex assumed a five point lead over Larson. Keselowski sits in the third position 82 points behind Truex. Kevin Harvick sits fourth in points only 103 points behind Truex. Ky. Busch rounds out the top-five in points only 105 points behind Truex.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams is a trip to Dover International Speedway for the AAA 400 Driver For Autism. The race will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Drivers Assess First Quarter of 2017
TALLADEGA, Al.— As the first quarter of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season came to a close last week at Richmond, drivers begin to assess their seasons and where they would like to improve on throughout the rest of the season.
The first nine races of the season have seen encumbered wins and side-by-side racing. Seven different drivers have made their way to victory lane this season, while Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson have made their way into victory lane twice. Three short track, one restrictor plate event, and five different tracks have encompassed the first quarter of the season.
Some teams have struggled while some teams have flourished with the new aero packages, while some teams have excelled in stage racing.
Kyle Larson leads the points standing by 40 points over Martin Truex Jr, 52 points over Chase Elliott, 71 points over Brad Keselowski (pending points penalty from Phoenix), and Joey Logano sits 90 points out of the lead following his encumbered win at Richmond.
In his first season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Erik Jones has made a name for himself in the top series. He currently has one top-10 finish this season.
“I wish through the first part of the season we would have just had more results. I think we've ran a lot better than what we've really finished, which is disappointing and unfortunate in a way. But knowing that we showed up at the race every week ‑‑ I can only point at a couple races where I didn't really feel like we should have ran in the top 10, just circumstances, and the way these races have kind of played out, at the end of the them, it just hasn't been in the cards for us,” said Jones.
When asked how he would like to improve on the season, Jones stated, “I think beyond that as the season goes on, we just want to keep working on executing better at the end of the races, getting these finishes and running up front and honestly feel like we keep bringing these fast race cars to the track, one of these weeks it's just going to kind of click for us, and we're just going to be running up front and have a good shot at the win. I thought Bristol was kind of going to be that day, but it seems as things have gone, we just haven't had the tides been falling in our favor."
Although he received an encumbered penalty after his win last weekend at Richmond, Logano is impressed with how his season as gone.
“For us as the 22 team, we were able to kick off the season great with the win at The Clash. That was nice, and since then we’ve had decent speed in our cars. At the beginning part of the year we didn’t execute perfectly during the race, so we didn’t get many stage points, but we were able to recover and get a lot of top 5s and top 10s so far this year. Our average finish is great. I think last week to get through and win the race is a nice thing,” said Logano, “Obviously, this is a little bit of a setback, so I think in general we’re doing a good job. I think we’ve cleaned up the mistakes that we had earlier in the year to where now we’re running as well as we should during the event, which is gonna help us score stage points because we all know how big that is right now and it will be forever. I think the fact that we cleaned up our races a little bit, that’s a big deal, and our speed is still really well. We have good speed in our cars, so those wins will start clicking off is good. I feel happy with where we’re at. I think we have an average finish of around sixth and seventh with the blown right-front at Phoenix and a thirtysomething finish there, so I’m proud of the way we’ve handled the situations this year and the finishes we’ve been getting and the way we’ve been recovering I think that’s an A-plus, and I think we’ve cleaned up to where we don’t have to recover as much, hopefully, here in the future.”
For Ryan Blaney, the season has been filled with ups and downs. He assessed his second season with the Wood Brothers:
“We started off the year really strong. I feel like we didn’t get good finishes the first six or seven races. We had really good cars where things happened and we didn’t get the finish we deserved. I’d say our season started off really strong. The past two weeks have been kind of rough on us. Bristol was a shame. We were really fast and had that power-steering issue and had to ride around there for 300 laps to the end of the race. Richmond, I actually salvaged a really good finish out of that after not being good all day…running 18th all day. I think we drove up to eighth and got the car better, and then Kurt (Busch) wrecked us. I feel like those are the things that we need to do if we don’t run well the first three-quarters of the race, keep working on our car and finish well,” said Blaney. “That’s what we did last week, and I feel like we didn’t have that last year. If we ran bad last year, the first portion of the race we stayed there all day, so this year I feel like we’ve gotten better with that. I’m pretty happy how the Woods Brothers team is running now and where our performance is. It’s just a matter of getting back on track and getting the finishes that we deserve. I feel like there are some really good race tracks that we can definitely capitalize on.”
Consistency in second place, a win at Auto Club, and during the stages was key. Here is how Larson rated his first quarter:
“It’s been good. We had three consecutive second place finishes that led to the win and then we got another second-place finish after that. Four second place finishes and a win to start, I think our average finish is like basically sixth. It’s been a solid start to the year we’ve just got to keep working hard. It’s a really long season. Teams get better and worse throughout the year, so we’ve just got to continue to dig deep and build on what we have right now to get better and hopefully challenge for some more wins,” said Larson.
Chase Elliott has not had the first quarter he would like, it has been full of ups and downs.
“I think we’ve had some ups and downs. I feel like we fired off really well with the way we ran at Daytona and Atlanta. I thought our West Coast swing was pretty strong. I feel like over the past few weeks we really haven’t performed up to our potential. As a group, I think anybody in our group would feel the same way. We’ve had some fast cars at times. We’ve had our driving good and then other weeks, not so much,” said Elliott. “But, we definitely need to execute races; even on the days that your car is not driving like you want it to. That execution and doing everything correctly on pit road, restarts, giving the right information, can turn a bad day into a pretty good day, really. Like last week, for instance, we ran not very good and just inside the 15th; not quite inside the top 10 the majority of the day. We got towards the end of the day and had an opportunity to finish up well inside the top 10 if we had just executed a little bit better. So, that’s what we need to do. And we know we need to do that. And, we’ll try to make that happen.”
Although he won the Daytona 500 this year, Kurt Busch has had a season of ups and downs highlighted by alternator issues.
“For us on the 41 car, we’ve almost gotten a top 10 at half the races so far. This will be our 10th race, so if we get a top 10 this weekend that means we’ve been in the top 10 half the time. We had a couple alternator bugs and issues that we had to work through on the west coast trip. We missed the setup at Fontana. Martinsville was better this time around, we just didn’t seal the deal. We got caught up in a wreck there,” said Busch. “Overall, when you win the Daytona 500 it can carry you for a lifetime. It can carry you for a season and so for the first 10 races, we’ve had a great deal of success and we’re very happy about that with our Ford, with Haas, with Monster and for everybody on the team. Ring-sizing was this week at Stewart-Haas Racing for everybody to get their ring sizes measured up to get a Daytona 500 championship ring, so it’s been pretty special so far to start the year.”
Although the first quarter is a basis for many teams, there are still many more opportunities in 2017 to improve and stay consistent.