During the final 56 laps of the Coca-Cola 600, the inevitable thought entered Martin Truex Jr.‘s mind.
“We’re out there leading, and I’m like, ‘All right, when is the caution going to come out?’ ” Truex said.
It never did. For the first time in almost a year, the other shoe didn’t drop on Truex.
The Furniture Row Racing driver led a Coke 600 record 392 laps from the pole to earn his fourth career Sprint Cup win.
In the longest Sprint Cup race, Truex led more miles than any driver in NASCAR history.
His win was a week shy of the anniversary of his last victory at Pocono Raceway.
“It’s just kind of sinking in now, we won the 600,” Truex told Fox Sports after standing on his No. 78 Toyota, arms stretched out to embrace a shower of soda from his team.
“It’s a weekend you dream about,” said Truex, who endured a rough stretch of 12 races to start the 2016 season. It started when he lost the closest finish in Daytona 500 history, and it recurred at Texas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and then two weeks ago in a wreck at Dover International Speedway.
Truex led the most laps at Texas and Kansas before pit strategy and a vibration ended his chances to win in each race.
But Truex was flawless Sunday night, earning a perfect driver rating of 150.0. It’s the first time a Sprint Cup driver has accomplished that mark since Kevin Harvick at Phoenix in 2013. Truex also is the first driver to win multiple races for Furniture Row Racing.
“I told Marcus (Smith) in victory lane that I’m really sorry that I stunk up the show,” he said. “But I was not about to let off. I really wanted to get this win.”
Furniture Row Racing has won three times in its 12-year existence, but Sunday night was the first time owner Barney Visser has been in attendance for a trip to victory lane.
“I had confidence, I had faith,” Truex said. “I’ve got a lot of people behind me. (Girlfriend) Sherry (Pollex) she gives me a lot of inspiration and we just keep fighting, we never give up, we never quit.”
Pollex, Truex’s longtime girlfriend, finished chemotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer in January and was at the track Sunday.
“It’s amazing, I keep telling him that he had to lose all those races, and that God was building his character to win the big one,” Pollex told Fox Sports. “We’ve been through so much, this is just icing on the cake.”
HOW MARTIN TRUEX JR. WON: Truex led all but eight laps for the pole, a Coke 600 record, to win the race.
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Kevin Harvick started eighth and was in the top three for most of the last 200 laps, finishing second for the third time this season … Jimmie Johnson, who finished third, was the only other driver to lead laps under green that weren’t during pit stops … Denny Hamlin finish fourth for his first top-five result in eight races … Chase Elliott finished eighth in his first Coke 600 start.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kyle Busch smacked the wall out of Turn 2 with seven laps left and went straight to the garage. He finished 33rd … Carl Edwards, a presence in the top five most of the night, was penalized for speeding twice, the second time while serving a pass through penalty for the first. The defending race winner finished 18th, a lap down … All-Star Race winner Joey Logano was in third when he was penalized for his crew going over the wall too soon during green flag stops on Lap 253. Logano rallied to salvage ninth … Brian Scott brought out a caution on Lap 115 for a spin in Turn 2. Scott finished 29th.
NOTABLE: Every team affiliated with Joe Gibbs Racing has won a race in 2016 … The previous record holder for most laps led in the Coke 600 was Jim Paschal with 335 laps in 1967 … Truex’s win is the second-most dominant performance at a 1.5-mile track. Ernie Irvan led 328 of 334 laps (98.2 percent) at Charlotte in October 1993.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I kind of felt like he was playing with us. He was so fast.” – Jimmie Johnson on Martin Truex Jr.
NEXT: Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 5 at 1 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.