Martin Truex Jr. started the second round of the NASCAR playoffs the same way he did in the first round – with a victory.
In what Truex called a flawless team effort, the Furniture Row Racing driver rebounded from early handling issues, charged to the front and came through with a couple of nail-biting late-race restarts in his No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota to score the Bank of America 500 victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“Unbelievable win,” said a joyous Truex. “Just a total team effort. Every single guy – every guy on this team just did a perfect job today and I can’t be more proud of them at this time of the year just when you want it to happen. You dream about days like today. I don’t know if we had the best car, but we damn sure got it in Victory Lane.”
It was the sixth victory of the season and 13th career win for the Mayetta, N.J. native. It was also the 12th career win for the Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row Racing team.
The victory automatically transfers Truex into the next round of the playoffs (Round 8). There are two races remaining in the current playoff round – at Talladega Superspeedway and Kansas Speedway. Truex also picked up five playoff bonus points bringing his total to 64.
“We qualified horribly (17th) and I was mad about it,” stated Truex. “Cole (Pearn, crew chief) was mad about it and in twenty minutes we’re like alright, I think this is where we went wrong. And he’s like yeah, that’s where we went wrong. We screwed up, we’ll get them Sunday. Just thankful to him and this whole team and Barney (Visser, team owner) and everybody for giving us everything we need.”
There were many key moments in the 337-lap overtime race, but the one that stands out is when Truex came down pit road in third place following a caution on Lap 280. The over-the-wall crew, which was outstanding all day, got Truex off of pit road first. He never looked back as he led the final 57 laps.
Truex was equally impressive behind the wheel. With seven laps remaining and enjoying a safe lead, the caution came out. But Truex nailed the ensuing restart and was once again headed to victory. And if that weren’t enough suspense, another caution was called with two laps to go, sending the race into a green-white-checkered overtime finish. Again, Truex would not be denied as he was perfect on the restart and took the checkered flag 0.991 seconds ahead of second place Chase Elliott.
“A thank you to Joe Gibbs Racing for the chassis and the collaboration – these guys work really well together,” noted Truex, who led a total of 91 laps. “I got a lot to thank. TRD, Toyota, everybody. Auto Owners Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, Johnny Morris, Furniture Row, Denver Mattress, 5-hour ENERGY, WIX. We’ve got so many great partners.
“Auto-Owners Insurance started this thing without even telling me at their offices. They said it’s called ‘Ride with Martin’ for their next race and everybody contributed money to my foundation to have their name on the car and they gave me a check today for $75,000 to our foundation. They’re an unbelievable partner, so thank you to them. I’m so happy to get them to Victory Lane.”
The balance of the top-10 finishers were: Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson.
The race had 10 cautions for 44 laps and 14 lead changes among eight drivers.
The next race is Sunday Oct. 15 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.