It was NASCAR’s longest race of the year, but it wound up being a five-lap shootout won by Martin Truex Jr. that decided Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Truex beat Joey Logano to the finish line of the 600-mile race to earn his third win of the season and 22nd of his Cup career. Truex is tied with teammate Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski for most wins in the first 13 races of the season.
It also was Truex’s second Coca-Cola 600 win since 2016.
“What a race,” Truex said. “One hell of a team. We never gave up on it, even when I blew a tire and hit the wall (on Lap 74 of the 400-lap event). Just thanks to (crew chief Cole Pearn) and all the guys.
“When we hit the fence, I thought we were done. I didn’t know how we were going to fix it.”
The winning move came on pit road when Truex stopped for four tires with eight laps to go following Brad Keselowski’s spin near the entrance to pit road. Truex exited second but restarted behind David Ragan (who did not pit) and Ryan Newman (whose team changed only two tires). Truex then made short work of them after the restart to earn his third win in the last five points races.
Truex’s victory also is the eighth win for Joe Gibbs Racing in the 13 points races this season.
“The Coke 600’s a big one, man, you really hate to miss (the win),” Logano said.
Added Kyle Busch, who finished third: “(Truex) was the fastest car, so I’m not sure what they had over us.”
STAGE 1 WINNER: Brad Keselowski
STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski
STAGE 3 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Fifth-place finisher Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned his first top five since last fall’s playoff race at Talladega. … Sixth-place finisher Chris Buescher earned his third top 10 of the season and his best finish since coming in fifth at last July’s race at Daytona. … All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished in the top 10 for the first time since Texas in April 2016.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Erik Jones’ day ended after just 22 laps when the right front tire on his Toyota Camry blew, sending him into the wall and out of the race. … All-Star winner Kyle Larson got loose early in Stage 4 and slammed into Clint Bowyer and Austin Dillon and then collected Dillon’s younger brother, Ty. “I just got in there, lost grip and slid into Clint and started spinning,” Larson said.
NOTABLE: It was a rough night for three of Joe Gibbs Racing’s four drivers – Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. – as well as JGR affiliated driver Matt DiBenedetto, who all suffered tire issues that put them into the wall. Jones and DiBenedetto were both knocked out of the race early, while Hamlin and Truex were able to be repaired and continued. … The race lasted 4 hours, 52 minutes and 47 seconds. … Lug nut violations found in post-race inspection were assessed to the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick, No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and No. 22 of Joey Logano. The No. 18 of Kyle Busch was taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center.
WHAT’S NEXT: Pocono 400, Sunday June 2, 2 p.m. ET, Pocono Raceway