Martin Truex Jr. further established himself as championship favorite by dominating the Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Already locked into the Round of 12 following a victory in the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway, Truex picked up his second win of in the first round after leading 187 of 400 laps Sunday afternoon. The victory is the second at Dover for Truex, a New Jersey native, who earned his first career win at his home track in June of 2007.
It is also his seventh career win and fourth of the season. Truex finished first, seventh, and first in the Chase’s first three races while leading a total of 360 laps.
“We’re not messing around, I guess,” Truex told NBC Sports of his first round performance. “I don’t know. What else can you say? We are here to get it done and golly, the best bunch of guys you could ever ask for and just amazing to drive their racecars and do what we’re able to do. I’m just ecstatic.”
Truex took control of the race after Jimmie Johnson, who led 90 laps, was penalized for having too many crew members over the wall during a round of green flag pit stops on Lap 280. Johnson had been leading at the time but would finish seventh, the first car one lap down.
The No. 78 of Truex then took the lead for the final time on Lap 374 after the race’s final round of pit stops. His margin of victory was seven seconds over Toyota teammate, Kyle Busch.
HOW TRUEX WON: Truex cycled to the race lead by seven seconds with 26 laps to go following the final round of pit stops.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Chase Elliott earned his second top-five finish in the Chase with a third-place run … Team Penske put both cars in the top-10 with pole-sitter Brad Keselowski finishing fourth and Joey Logano finishing sixth … Jimmie Johnson recovered from a pit road penalty to finish seventh … Jeff Gordon earned his first top-10 finish in the No. 88 car with a 10th-place effort.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kyle Larson finished 25th, six laps down after losing power in his Chevrolet, being issued a pit road penalty, and hitting the wall … Kevin Harvick broke a track bar mount and finished 37th … Ryan Blaney blew a tire and finished 38th … Jamie McMurray blew an engine and finished last, 40th.
NOTABLE: With his fourth win at Dover, Truex is now tied with Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch for the most in the series. Dover is also the first track where Truex has scored multiple race wins. Truex has also now led more laps in the last six races (588) than each of his prior seasons entering 2016.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It feels good. Now it’s time to knock some more of these guys out because we’ve got this opportunity and I’m going to say we’re going to be the underdog in this next round, so let’s go do it.” — Austin Dillon on advancing to the Round of 12 in the Chase.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Round of 12 begins at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the Bank of America 500 on Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. ET on NBC.