Tuesday July 7th, 2020 7:23AM

Martin Truex Jr. charges to dominant victory at Dover

By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
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DOVER, Del. - If anyone loves a rainy day, it’s Martin Truex, Jr.

The Mayetta, New Jersey driver won his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway after a rain delay pushed the event to Monday, June 4, 2007.

On Monday at the Monster Mile, Truex won for the 21st time in the rain-delayed Gander RV 400, beating runner-up Alex Bowman to the finish line by 9.501 seconds, topping the 7.355-second margin he achieved in his inaugural win 12 years ago.

The size of Truex’s second victory of the season — and third at Dover overall — was all the more impressive because the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota had to start at the rear of the field after two pre-race inspection failures.

“Man, it feels incredible,” said Truex, who led the last 53 laps and 132 overall, second only to pole winner and fifth-place finisher Chase Elliott’s 146. “I’m so thankful for this team. What a race car we had today.

“We have one hell of a team. We came here with a new set-up this time because we kind of had an older set-up that we won with in 2016, and we’d been good, but not good enough.

“Thanks to all these fans that came out today, on a Monday. It’s just awesome.”

Truex had remarked before the race that coming through the field wouldn’t be easy. Even though he made it look that way, Truex had to put in a hard day’s work at one of NASCAR’s most physically demanding tracks.

“I promise it wasn’t easy,” Truex said. “It was a lot of work. It was tough. This race car, man, it was just incredible.”

Kyle Larson ran third, scoring his first top five of the season, and Kevin Harvick finished fourth. Erik Jones, Joey Logano, William Byron, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch completed the top 10.

For Busch, the top 10 was his 11th straight to start the season, matching the record set by Morgan Shepherd in 1990. Busch will attempt to break the tie next Sunday at Kansas, where he has finished in the top 10 in his last eight starts.

Elliott dominated the race from the green flag, leading the first 107 laps, but a caution for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.’s hard contact with the turn 1 wall put strategy into play. Logano and Byron each took two tires under the yellow and led the field to a lap 111 restart.

Logano was able to hold the top spot through the lap 120 end of stage 1, collecting his fifth stage win of the season in a one-lap shootout after Quin Houff’s accident between turns 1 and 2. In need of fresh left-side tires, however, both Logano and Byron were forced to pit during the stage break, and they restarted 24th and 25th, respectively, on lap 130.

It took Logano most of Stage 2 to break into the top 15, as the second 120 laps of the race evolved into a battle between Elliott, Bowman, Harvick and Truex. Elliott held the top spot after a cycle of green-flag pit stops ended on lap 191, but he surrendered the lead to Bowman on lap 224, when Bowman sustained a huge run through Turns 3 and 4 and crossed over on the frontstretch to take the point.

Bowman stayed out front until the final lap of the stage, when Truex shot past and took the green/checkered flag for his first stage win of the season. Coincidentally, both Truex and Bowman had started the race from the rear of the field after each of their cars failed pre-race inspection twice.

After pit stops, Truex and Bowman restarted 1-2 on lap 250 and maintained those positions until Denny Hamlin cut a tire after scraping the wall and spun in turn 2 on lap 265. On the subsequent restart, Harvick charged from fourth to second, leaving Bowman and Larson in his wake.

In an exchange of green-flag pit stops with 50 laps left, however, Bowman regained the second position, and Larson overtook Harvick for third. Truex extended his advantage to more than four seconds with 44 laps left, and there was no change in the running order of the top four over the balance of the event.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Dover International Speedway – Dover, DE
Gander RV 400 – May 6, 2019

1. (13) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 400.
2. (5) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 400.
3. (3) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.
4. (6) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 400.
5. (1) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400.
6. (15) Erik Jones, Toyota, 400.
7. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, 400.
8. (2) William Byron, Chevrolet, 400.
9. (10) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 400.
10. (22) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400.
11. (14) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 400.
12. (9) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 399.
13. (19) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 399.
14. (12) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 399.
15. (11) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 399.
16. (7) Aric Almirola, Ford, 399.
17. (18) Paul Menard, Ford, 399.
18. (21) Ryan Newman, Ford, 398.
19. (16) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 398.
20. (17) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 398.
21. (8) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 397.
22. (25) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 397.
23. (30) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 397.
24. (26) Michael McDowell, Ford, 395.
25. (23) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 394.
26. (24) David Ragan, Ford, 393.
27. (27) Darrell Wallace, Jr., Chevrolet, 393.
28. (29) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 392.
29. (28) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 392.
30. (36) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 389.
31. (31) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 389.
32. (32) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 387.
33. (20) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford, 386.
34. (33) Cody Ware(i), Ford, 383.
35. (37) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Engine, 356.
36. (35) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, Too Slow, 168.
37. (34) B.J. McLeod(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 96.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 127.242 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 8 Mins, 37 Secs. Margin of Victory: 9.501 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 6 for 31 laps.

Lead Changes: 15 among 11 drivers.

Lap Leaders: C. Elliott 1-107;J. Logano 108-123;B. Keselowski 124-181;K. Harvick 182;K. Busch 183;W. Byron 184-188;M. McDowell 189;C. Elliott 190-223;A. Bowman 224-239;M. Truex Jr. 240-243;C. Elliott 244;M. Truex Jr. 245-319;C. Elliott 320-322;J. Johnson 323-326;D. Suarez 327-347;M. Truex Jr. 348-400.

Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led) Chase Elliott 4 times for 145 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 3 times for 132 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 58 laps; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 21 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 16 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 16 laps; William Byron 1 time for 5 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 4 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 1 lap; Michael McDowell 1 time for 1 lap; Kevin Harvick 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,2,9,42,4,24,88,12,20,14

Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,88,4,9,2,42,12,18,14,20

Top 10 in Points: 1. Kyle Busch – 460 (3 Wins); 2. Joey Logano – 455 (1 Win); 3. Kevin Harvick – 397; 4. Denny Hamlin – 383 (2 Wins); 5. Martin Truex, Jr. – 378 (2 Wins); 6. Brad Keselowski – 377 (2 Wins); 7. Chase Elliott – 371 (1 Win); 8. Kurt Busch – 347; 9. Ryan Blaney – 335; 10. Clint Bowyer – 319.

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