Tag Archives: Monster Energy

Truex Jr Wins Homestead and Championship

(Courtesy: NASCAR Media)

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 19: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – At the end of a riveting, breathtaking battle that had fans in the grandstands on their feet long after the checkered flag, Martin Truex Jr. held off Kyle Busch by .681 seconds at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win Sunday’s Ford Eco-Boost 400 and his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title. 

In Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last race in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Truex—one of Earnhardt’s closest friends—kept Busch behind him during a 34-lap green-flag run to the finish. 

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 19: A “Thank You” message for Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 AXALTA Chevrolet, is displayed on a flag towed by a pickup truck during pre-race ceremonies for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

“It’s just overwhelming,” a tearful Truex said in Victory Lane. “To think about all the rough days and bad days, the days that we couldn’t run 20th, to be here—I never thought this day would come, and to be here is so unbelievable.” 

The victory was a timely gift for Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser, who is back home in Denver, Colo., recovering from a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery. It was also a gift to Truex’s long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who has been battling ovarian cancer. 

“A lot of it was for her,” said Truex, who won for the first time at Homestead and the 15th time in his career. “A lot of it was for me. A lot of it was for this team – just, I don’t even know what to say. We just never gave up all day long. We didn’t have the best car. I don’t know how we won that thing. Never give up. Dig deep.” 

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 19: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The victory also was entirely appropriate. For the bulk of the season, Truex was the top driver in the series. Sunday’s victory was his eighth of the year, a series-best, and his seventh on 1.5-mile intermediate speedways. Truex had the No. 78 Toyota out front for 78 laps on Sunday, bringing his season total of laps led to a career-best 2,253, also tops in the series. 

With an excellent long-run car, Busch slipped to fourth after the final restart on Lap 234 of 267 and needed nine laps to pass the stubborn No. 22 Ford of Joey Logano. Seven laps later, Busch slipped past fellow Championship 4 contender Kevin Harvick into second and set his sights on Truex. 

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 19: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, race during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Busch closed rapidly, but Truex found a line that allowed him to maintain an edge that shrank to as little as two car lengths. But Busch never could pull alongside his fellow Camry driver, and Truex inched away over the last four circuits. 

“I told my guys we were going to dig deeper than we ever have today, and (with) 20 (laps) to go, I thought I was done – they were all better than me on the long run all day long,” Truex said. “I just found a way. I found a lane that I could use, and I found a lane that was blocking enough of their air that they couldn’t use it and just made it happen. 

“I can’t believe it. I’ve wanted this since I was a little kid and just never give up. Just never give up on your dreams, no matter what happens and what kind of crap you go through. And thank you, Barney. I wish you were here, buddy.” 

Kyle Larson finished third, closely trailing the championship battle after moving past Harvick for third on Lap 252. Harvick came home fourth, after debris from David Starr’s Chevrolet punched a hole in the nose of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. 

“I was just really loose the whole last run,” Harvick said. “When it started to get dark, we started to get tight in the corner, and then we got a hole in the nose. We got that fixed and just couldn’t quite get it where we needed to be to make good times. 

“Some runs we fell off. Some runs we were tight on entry. There at the end we were just too loose.” 

Chase Elliott and Joey Logano ran fifth and sixth, respectively. Playoff driver Brad Keselowski finished sixth, ending the season fourth in the series standings. 

Busch opted for a one-pit-stop strategy during the final stage of the race and appeared headed for the title until his brother, Kurt Busch, spun in Turn 4 on Lap 227 to bring out the fifth and final caution of the event and bunch the field for the restart on Lap 234. 

“Yeah, it wasn’t quite what we wanted there at the end,” Busch said. “I thought we had a really great race car. Especially on the long runs, we were really, really good. Just came down to there at the end, not having enough tire when I got to the 78. 

“So I just overused my stuff, and I knew I overused my stuff when I was running with the 22 (Logano) trying to get by him and just overworked everything, and got to the 4 (Harvick), got by him pretty quick. I tried to make sure that I could do that pretty quick so then I could have at least a little more tire life, but didn’t seem to pay me off any when I got to the 78.”

Larson Captures Third Straight Michigan Victory on Final Restart

(Courtesy: NASCAR Media)

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Sitting in his racecar during a red flag delay near the end of the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Kyle Larson pondered the possible routes to an overtime victory. He was in fourth-place and would restart for the final two-lap shootout behind leader Martin Truex Jr. 

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 13: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2017 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Larson hadn’t had a fast racecar all day at Michigan International Speedway, but he thought with a gutsy move on the restart, he could steal a win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Ahead of him, Truex, the race leader, was in the opposite positon. He had had a fast racecar all day, and he figured he needed a strong restart to repel whatever move Larson or somebody else would throw at him. Like Larson, he was trying to figure out which scenario would be most likely to take him to Victory Lane.

As it turned out, Larson and Truex both drew up the same plan—they both wanted Larson to hit Truex on the restart. They just had different ideas about what would happen after that.

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 13: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2017 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Truex hoped the contact would push him forward and to the victory, and for a very brief second, that seemed possible. But Truex spun his tires, which played right into Larson’s strategy.

“I wanted to time it and get to his bumper and act like I was pushing him out to the lead and duck underneath him and get to his left-rear quarter and pull him back,” Larson said. “It’s crazy how when you get to someone’s left rear quarter how much it slows them down. It did just that.”

Larson bounced off of Truex as he passed him, and for a split second the race fanned out four wide. That never ends well—especially not on the penultimate lap when all four drivers are going for the win. But somehow they all stayed off each other, and afterward, rookie Erik Jones, one of those drivers, was at a loss to explain how. “I was pointed at the infield for half of (Turns) one and two,” said Jones, who finished third. 

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 13: Erik Jones, driver of the #77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2017 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

After the pass, Larson’s car was loose for the rest of the restart lap and the white flag lap. But he put enough distance between him and Truex that Truex couldn’t catch him and had to settle for second. Those were the only two laps Larson led all day. The thrilling win in a car that had no business doing so looked like a career defining move for Larson, the young driver from California.

The win was an exclamation point on an already great week of racing for Larson. He finished second late Saturday night in the Knoxville Nationals, one of the biggest dirt races in the world. His contract forbids him from running on dirt the night before he has to be on track for NASCAR, be it practice, qualifying or a race. But on Thursday, he talked team owner Chip Ganassi into making an exception.

Ganassi harbored misgivings about the decision—he thought Larson, who didn’t get back to Michigan from Knoxville, Iowa until 2:30 a.m. Sunday might be too worn out for the 400 mile race, and those doubts grew bigger in the middle of the race as Larson languished in the middle of the pack. But after the win, Ganassi joyously shook team members on the pit box and planted a kiss on Larson. 

It was Larson’s third consecutive win at Michigan. The only other drivers to accomplish that are David Pearson and Bill Elliott, both of whom are in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The race was slowed by five cautions for 28 laps.

BROOKLYN, MI – AUGUST 13: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, races Daniel Suarez, driver of the #19 ARRIS Surfboard/McAfee Toyota, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 13, 2017 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Michigan native Brad Keselowski won the first stage. He dominated the first half of the race, leading five times for 105 laps. But he faded to 17th. Truex led three times for 57 laps and won the second stage. Truex kept his position atop the points race, but finished runner-up.

Truex Saves Fuel to Earn Watkins Glen Victory

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 06: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series I Love NY 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 6, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – At a track where his father raced, and a track where he was a “garage rat” as a child, Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday’s I Love New York 355 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race by slowing down over the closing laps. 

Truex let Brad Keselowski pass him for the lead on Lap 77 of 90. On instructions from crew chief Cole Pearn, Truex also let Ryan Blaney past his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota on Lap 83. 

All the while, Truex was saving fuel, with Pearn calculating that both Keselowski and Blaney would have to stop for a splash of gas. The strategy played out as expected, with Keselowski giving up the lead for a trip to pit road on Lap 87 and Blaney following a lap later. 

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 06: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series I Love NY 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 6, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

That left Truex to hold off a desperate charge from Matt Kenseth on the final lap, with Truex streaking across the finish line .414 seconds ahead of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry. Kenseth’s teammate, Daniel Suarez, rolled home in third to register a career-best result. 

“I’m a little bit lost for words at the moment, just because I’ve been thinking about this one a long time – all weekend, all day,” said Truex, who won for the fourth time this season and the 11th time in his career. 

“Then, at the end there, just it’s so hard there to let guys pass you for the lead. You’ve just got to listen to your crew chief and, luckily for me, I’ve got the best one in the business, and I just believe in him so much, and I just do what he says and it seems to work out.” 

Kenseth, who remains on the playoff bubble with four races left before the 16-driver field is set, was disappointed at coming so close to the victory—one that would have guaranteed him a playoff spot. 

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 06: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Busch Beer Ford, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, lead a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series I Love NY 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 6, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“I’m second happiest,” said Kenseth who was also saving fuel and gunned it on the last lap. “Martin is the happiest. We really needed the win. Honestly, I don’t even think about the playoffs. I more think about coming here for however many, 15, 17, 18 years, whatever it’s been, and not really having a win or an opportunity to win and never even really been that great here. 

“I felt like we had a top-five car. Obviously, we had good fortune there at the end with our track position and our fuel mileage and all that to stay in it and have a shot at it, but man, when it’s that close and you see him saving and you’re saving and then you go after him there on that last lap, it’s disappointing not to get it. Especially when I saw him miss Turn 6, I was like, ‘Man, I’m going to have a shot,’ and he was so fast I still couldn’t get to him getting into (Turn) 7.” 

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 06: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, poses for a photo after winning the pole award during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series I Love NY 355 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 6, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Polesitter Kyle Busch led all 20 laps of the race’s first stage, but a snafu on pit road left his left front wheel loose, and Busch had to return under caution during the stage break to correct the problem. That left him deep in the field for the subsequent restart on Lap 25. 

Busch worked his way back into the top 10, but after restarting ninth on Lap 45, his No. 18 Toyota and Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford collided in the bus stop chicane, sending both cars off course. Busch wasn’t a contender for the victory after that, though he did rally to finish seventh. 

Notes: Truex expanded his series lead to 116 points over Kyle Busch, who moved past 23rd-place finisher Kyle Larson for second place. … Truex also increased his playoff point total to 34. Three-time winner Jimmie Johnson is second with 16. … Busch collected his ninth stage win to raise his playoff point total to 14. … The three winless drivers currently in playoff-eligible positions (Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Kenseth) are seventh, eighth and ninth in the standings, respectively, all within an 11-point range.