Truex roars to Sprint Cup victory at Dover

Special to the Delaware State News/Doug Curran

DOVER — They all arrived on buses from Mayetta, New Jersey — 150 people waving Martin Truex Jr. towels.

They came hoping to root on their favorite driver to a victory at his home track. It was even better than that — they saw him dominate.

Truex led a race-high 187 laps for his second win in the last three races to wind up in Victory Lane at Dover International Speedway on Sunday in the Citizen Soldier 400.

By the end of the race, there were only six cars left on the lead lap.

“No mercy,” Truex said.

It was the fourth victory of the season for Truex Jr. who had three career wins entering this season. It was also the second time he won at the track that he grew up attending races at, he also earned his first ever Sprint Cup win here back in 2007.

Truex will enter the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup as the top seed of the 12 remaining drivers. He has kept up a streak of momentum that started five weeks ago with a win in the Southern 500 at Darlington followed by third at Richmond before he captured a win in the opening race of the Chase at Chicago and finished seventh at New Hampshire last weekend.

“The last month and a half have been a dream,” Truex said.

Not many drivers posed a threat to Truex and those that did encountered problems along the way.

Jimmie Johnson led 90 laps and looked to have the car to beat during the middle portion of the race. But the 10-time Dover winner was penalized for having a crew member over the wall too earlier on a green-flag pit stop.

Johnson said he was pulling toward his put when Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola were turning out in front of him which caused him to slow up.

“I had to slam on my brakes,” Johnson said. “I assumed I threw the rhythm off of one of my guys. We do feel like we let one get away.”

Johnson was able to salvage a seventh-place finish out of his day — the first car one lap down.

“I think the 48 (Johnson) was equally good as us and we were going to have to battle them,” said Cole Pearn, Truex’s crew chief. “We’re fortunate we didn’t make any mistakes. At the end of the day at Dover, you’re going to have to beat Jimmie Johnson and luckily it wasn’t that close.”

Kyle Larson also seemed like he could compete for the victory, moving up from 12th to seventh in the first 30 laps. Larson’s day was ruined thanks to an electrical issue and penalty on pit road. He never recovered and slumped to a 25th-place finish.

Last year’s winner of this race Kevin Harvick never got a chance to defend his title. He brought out the first caution with engine trouble and ended up 37th.

That left Busch as the only one who even threatened Truex’s dominance. Busch led 102 laps but could not get close to Truex at the end who’s lead ballooned to 12 seconds over Busch.
“Those guys are doing a phenomenal job,” Busch said.

Rookie Chase Elliott finished third for the second time in his Monster Mile career. Brad Keselowski was fourth, Matt Kenseth who won the spring race was fifth and Joey Logano was the final car on the lead lap at the checkered flag in sixth.

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