Truex tames the Monster

DOVER, Del. —Martin Truex Jr. pulled off the Monday miracle again at Dover International Speedway.

Twelve years ago, Truex won his first race at the Monster Mile—the last time the event was rain-delayed.

But on this Monday, in the Gander RV 400, Truex had to come from the back of the field for his third victory at his home track.

“Hell of a race car,” Truex screamed after taking the checkered flag. “Freakin’ machine guys.”

Truex led 132 laps and held off Alex Bowman by 9.501-seconds at the line for his 21st Monster Energy NASCAR Cup career win.

"Man, it feels incredible,” Truex added. “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 had worked good for several years but it wasn't good enough.

"Thanks to all these fans that came out today, on a Monday. It's just awesome."

Bowman was the bridesmaid for the second week in a row having finished second at Talladega Superspeedway as well.

“It would be better if we had a trophy, right?  We needed this, for sure,” Bowman said. “Talladega is a speedway, it's a lot of luck involved.  To come here to, in my opinion, the hardest racetrack we go to, run like that from the back of all things, was pretty special.

“Just proud of everybody at Hendrick Motor Sports for all the improvement we've made over the last year or so. We're going to keep it going.”

Kyle Larson finished third, his first top-five finish of the season. Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Joey Logano, William Byron, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch rounded out the top 10. Busch’s 11th-straight top 10 ties Morgan Shepherd’s record set in 1990 for most consecutive top  10s to start a season.

Logano won the first stage which was slowed by the Competition Caution on Lap 40 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. slapping the Turn 1 wall on Lap 105. Polesitter Chase Elliott led the first 107 laps but a two-tire stop gave Logano the lead out of the pits. The race returned to green on Lap 111 but Quin Houff hit the wall in Turn 2 four laps later. Logano held the point for a one-lap dash to the green-white-checkered flag, his fifth stage win of the season tying Kyle Busch.

Truex climbed from the back of the field to 11th over the first 120 laps.

"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.

Logano and Byron were the only two cars to pit during the stage break. Brad Keselowski took the lead followed by Elliott, Larson, Harvick, Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Jones, Bowyer and Truex for the green flag on Lap 130. Bowman passed Harvick for third on Lap 175. Elliott took the lead on Lap 190. Bowman moved second 10 laps later and  passed his teammate for the point on Lap 224. Truex caught fire in the second segment and passed Bowman with one lap to go in the stage for the win. Bowman finished second followed by Harvick, Elliott, Keselowski, Larson, Blaney, Kyle Busch, Bowyer and Jones.

Truex retained the lead in the pits and held the point for 75 laps to start Stage 3. His progress was slowed when Denny Hamlin spun off of Turn 2 on Lap 264. Truex pitted for the final time on Lap 321. He patiently waited for the field to cycle out under green flag stops until Daniel Suarez finally gave up the point for service on Lap 348.

Truex regained the lead and held on over the final 53 laps for his second win of 2019.

"I can't believe if we'd have won at Talladega, we'd have three in a row. Pretty Special. A new group of guys this year, Coach (Joe Gibbs) put together a good bunch with (crew chief) Cole (Pearn) and everybody. I'm just really, really proud. Just a lucky guy.”

Kyle Busch leads the standings by five points over Joey Logano.

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