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Monday, May 30, 2016

Truex’s luck turns with dominating win in Coca-Cola 600

Truex’s luck turns with dominating win in Coca-Cola 600

May 29, 2016

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

CONCORD, N.C. – The heartbreak kid survived 600 miles without another broken heart.

Instead, Martin Truex Jr. broke records in Sunday night’s victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a race in which the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota set new standards for domination.

Truex led 392 of 400 laps, most ever in NASCAR’s longest Sprint Cup Series race. He spent 588 of 600 miles at the front of the field, most ever in a single race in NASCAR history.

And when it was over, Truex had his first victory of the season, the fourth of his career and an all-but-guaranteed berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Perhaps more important, Truex erased a litany of crushing disappointments that continued into this season and ruined potential winning efforts at Texas, Kansas and Dover.

“It’s just kind of sinking in now that we won the 600,” Truex said in Victory Lane. “Really proud of my team – everybody that made this possible, that believed in me, gave me this opportunity. (crew chief) Cole Pearn, Jazzy (team engineer Jeff Curtis), my guys are something special.

“I want to thank all of them. This is a big day. Got the troops on the cars (for Memorial Day recognition). This is a special weekend. It’s really neat to bring that name (of fallen hero Gunnery Sergeant Jeffrey E. Bohr Jr.) home to Victory Lane. Just a lot of emotion right now. Not really sure it’s sunk in yet. Just an amazing day, an amazing weekend for all of us. It’s a weekend you dream about."

Truex finished 2.572 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick, whose car tightened up during the final 56-lap green-flag run. Jimmie Johnson ran third and led the second-most laps – five.

Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski completed the top five, but the night belonged to Truex.

When darkness fell, Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet came to life, but the tight handling condition that developed over the final 80 miles prevented him from taking the fight to Truex.

“Well, I saw him for about 50 miles or 75 miles,” Harvick said. “The rest of the night I never saw him. I was back there swatting flies in the middle of the pack. I didn't have a lot of time to see the 78.”

Johnson was pleased with the speed in his own No. 48 Chevrolet, but it was no match for Truex’s Camry.

“I kind of felt like he was playing with us,” Johnson said. “He was so fast. I would flatfoot (Turns) 1 and 2, and have a nose on him, and he would drive right back by me into Turn 3. It was so fast. It was very impressive. I’m happy for Martin. That team and those guys worked awfully hard to get where they’re at.”

But for the vagaries of green-flag pit stop cycles, Truex was out front for the entire race.

He led 336 of the first 344 laps, surpassing the race and speedway record of 335 set by 1967 Coke 600 winner Jim Paschal.

The average speed of the race, 160.644 mph, was a record for a Coca-Cola 600 that went the full distance, as was the duration of the race, 3 hours, 44 minutes, 8 seconds. Truex achieved a perfect driver rating of 150.0, the first of his career.

“I had confidence,” Truex added. “I had faith. I had confidence in my team. I’ve got a lot of great people behind me. Sherry (Pollex, Truex’s girlfriend and an ovarian cancer survivor), she gives me a lot of inspiration.

“And we keep on fighting. We never give up. We never quit. We always keep digging, and I’m proud of my guys for sticking by me. They all did a great job tonight. There are so many fans that have supported us the last few years with so many heartbreaks. I really appreciate that. I really had fun tonight.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race - Coca-Cola 600
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Concord, North Carolina
Sunday, May 29, 2016

               1. (1) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 400.
               2. (8) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 400.
               3. (7) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 400.
               4. (4) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400.
               5. (5) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 400.
               6. (13) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 400.
               7. (27) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 400.
               8. (12) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 400.
               9. (2) Joey Logano, Ford, 400.
               10. (14) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 400.
               11. (6) Greg Biffle, Ford, 400.
               12. (28) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 400.
               13. (24) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.
               14. (25) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 400.
               15. (3) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 400.
               16. (15) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 399.
               17. (11) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 399.
               18. (9) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 399.
               19. (23) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 399.
               20. (18) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 397.
               21. (19) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 396.
               22. (29) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 395.
               23. (26) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 395.
               24. (21) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 395.
               25. (10) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 395.
               26. (20) Aric Almirola, Ford, 395.
               27. (33) Landon Cassill, Ford, 395.
               28. (31) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 395.
               29. (30) Brian Scott #, Ford, 394.
               30. (17) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 394.
               31. (35) David Ragan, Toyota, 393.
               32. (34) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 393.
               33. (16) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 392.
               34. (32) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 391.
               35. (36) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 391.
               36. (38) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 390.
               37. (22) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 388.
               38. (37) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 387.
               39. (39) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, 382.
               40. (40) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Clutch, 200.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  160.655 mph.
Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 44 Mins, 05 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.572 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  4 for 19 laps.
Lead Changes:  9 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   M. Truex Jr. 1-77; J. Johnson 78-79; M. Truex Jr. 80-164; J. Johnson 165; J. Logano 166; M. Truex Jr. 167-298; P. Menard 299-300; M. Truex Jr. 301-343; J. Johnson 344-345; M. Truex Jr. 346-400.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Truex Jr. 5 times for 392 laps; J. Johnson 3 times for 5 laps; P. Menard 1 time for 2 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick - 457; Kurt Busch - 421; J. Johnson - 409; Kyle Busch - 405; C. Edwards - 404; B. Keselowski - 404; M. Truex Jr. - 381; C. Elliott # - 374; J. Logano - 373; M. Kenseth - 347; D. Hamlin - 345; A. Dillon - 344; D. Earnhardt Jr. - 341; J. Mcmurray - 318; *. Blaney # - 309; R. Newman - 309.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fresh tires propel Hamlin to NASCAR XFINITY win in Charlotte

Fresh tires propel Hamlin to NASCAR XFINITY win in Charlotte

May 28, 2016

By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

CONCORD, N.C. – In an event that bore notable similarities to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race a week earlier, Denny Hamlin won Saturday’s Hisense 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a pass on the final lap.

Hamlin’s fresh rubber trumped the old tires of Kyle Larson and Joey Logano, who restarted ahead of Hamlin in overtime at the 1.5-mile track.

In fact, Hamlin restarted sixth on Lap 205 after coming to pit road for four new tires under the eighth and final caution of the race, brought out when polesitter Erik Jones, Hamlin’s teammate, slammed the outside wall and performed the coup de grace on his already wounded No. 20 Toyota.

“It was a second opportunity, obviously,” Hamlin said. “I was hoping for that caution there at the end, and we got it and we were able to get four tires on this Hisense Camry and took off. A little closer than what I thought – I mean, we were just really tight those last couple laps, but what a great day.”

The victory was Hamlin’s first of the year in his only start so far, and it was the fifth this season for the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, the first four coming with Kyle Busch behind the wheel.

Logano surged ahead of Larson at the restart, but Hamlin gained huge momentum on his new tires from the outside lane. With less than a lap left, Hamlin got past Logano and held on to win the race by .291 seconds over Austin Dillon, who edged Logano for second in the final corner.

Dillon had opted for right-side tires only on his final pit stop.

But for a timely caution, however, Hamlin would not have had the opportunity to win the race. As they had done a week earlier in the All-Star race, Larson and Logano swapped the lead, with Logano powering past Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet on lap 166 of a scheduled 200, and Larson regaining the top spot with five laps left in regulation.

But when Jones slammed into the wall on Lap 199, Hamlin had the chance to come to pit road for tires under caution, while Larson and Logano stayed out to preserve their track position.

With just two cars up front on old tires, as had been the case for the final restart in the All-Star race, Hamlin made short work of the cars in front of him.

It was the third last-lap pass for the win in the XFINITY Series this season.

Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gayle conferred before the final pit stop and ultimately opted for the fresh rubber.

“It was a collaborative call,” Hamlin said. “He (Gayle) leaned towards staying out, but I thought that I could get around those guys in just two laps even though we were way faster on that last run. I thought tires were the thing.

“I knew if I could start on the outside that I wanted new tires and it just worked out on pit road where I came out on the outside. It all worked out and it was very exciting in that last corner, a little more exciting than what I expected.”

Hamlin desperately needed the final caution because his No. 18 team had drawn a penalty for an uncontrolled tire on a pit stop under yellow on Lap 160.

Hamlin restarted mid-pack instead of at the rear of the field as the violation requires, because according to NASCAR, the cars at the rear of the field failed to pass Hamlin’s No. 18 Camry before the green flag waved on Lap 164.

Hamlin said he left a large buffer for the laps-down car to pass him before the restart, but that they declined to do so.

By the time Jones hit the wall, Hamlin had driven to third place, trailing only Larson and Logano.

The similarities to the finish of the All-Star Race were not lost on Logano.

“I thought it was kind of supposed to be like what the All-Star Race was with old tires and new tires, but the (my car) was the fastest it’s been all year,” Logano said. “We can’t hold our heads down about it. We had a car that was capable of winning if circumstances went right. I felt like I was going have a good restart next to Kyle. 

“I felt my restarts were a little better than his all day, and I thought, ‘OK, if I can clear him,’ which we did I was like, ‘Alright, we’ve got a shot,’ but it was really hard to hold off those four tires. What a fun race. It got really exciting there at the end. I got passed on the top by Denny and then Kyle just kept ripping up top and had a big run into the corner, so it was fun to watch that. I was hoping they would get into each other, and I would sneak one out.”

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race - Hisense 4K TV 300
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Concord, North Carolina
Saturday, May 28, 2016

    1. (3) Denny Hamlin(i), Toyota, 206.
    2. (4) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 206.
    3. (7) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 206.
    4. (11) Cole Custer(i), Chevrolet, 206.
    5. (8) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 206.
    6. (5) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 206.
    7. (12) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, 206.
    8. (10) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 206.
    9. (14) Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 206.
    10. (17) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 206.
    11. (27) Jeb Burton, Ford, 206.
    12. (2) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 206.
    13. (19) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 206.
    14. (18) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 206.
    15. (31) Garrett Smithley #, Chevrolet, 206.
    16. (13) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 205.
    17. (16) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 205.
    18. (20) Drew Herring, Toyota, 205.
    19. (15) Ryan Reed, Ford, 204.
    20. (21) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 204.
    21. (23) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 204.
    22. (26) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 203.
    23. (25) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 203.
    24. (40) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 203.
    25. (30) BJ McLeod #, Ford, 202.
    26. (35) Martin Roy, Chevrolet, 202.
    27. (9) Darrell Wallace Jr., Ford, 201.
    28. (6) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 200.
    29. (22) Spencer Gallagher(i), Chevrolet, 200.
    30. (34) Carl Long, Toyota, 200.
    31. (1) Erik Jones #, Toyota, Accident, 197.
    32. (37) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 183.
    33. (36) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, Suspension, 130.
    34. (29) Jeff Green, Toyota, Fuel Pump, 127.
    35. (38) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Accident, 91.
    36. (33) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, Transmission, 84.
    37. (32) Ray Black Jr. #, Chevrolet, Oil Line, 27.
    38. (39) Cody Ware #, Ford, Accident, 12.
    39. (28) Josh Wise(i), Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 5.
    40. (24) Matt DiBenedetto(i), Toyota, Vibration, 3.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  114.515 mph.
Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 41 Mins, 54 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.291 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  8 for 54 laps.
Lead Changes:  21 among 10 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   E. Jones # 1-13; D. Hamlin(i) 14-15; E. Jones # 16; J. Green 17; D. Hamlin(i) 18-49; K. Larson(i) 50-54; D. Wallace Jr. 55-59; R. Chastain 60; D. Hamlin(i) 61-97; K. Larson(i) 98-111; R. Blaney(i) 112-113; C. Custer(i) 114; D. Suarez 115-116; D. Hamlin(i) 117-120; J. Logano(i) 121-147; K. Larson(i) 148-159; J. Logano(i) 160; K. Larson(i) 161-165; J. Logano(i) 166-194; K. Larson(i) 195-204; J. Logano(i) 205; D. Hamlin(i) 206;.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  D. Hamlin(i) 5 times for 76 laps; J. Logano(i) 4 times for 58 laps; K. Larson(i) 5 times for 46 laps; E. Jones # 2 times for 14 laps; D. Wallace Jr. 1 time for 5 laps; D. Suarez 1 time for 2 laps; R. Blaney(i) 1 time for 2 laps; J. Green 1 time for 1 lap; C. Custer(i) 1 time for 1 lap; R. Chastain 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 10 in Points: D. Suarez - 376; E. Sadler - 362; J. Allgaier - 353; T. Dillon - 352; B. Gaughan - 336; B. Jones # - 324; E. Jones # - 320; B. Poole # - 314; D. Wallace Jr. - 283; R. Reed - 266.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Coca-Cola 600

NASCAR Programming
·         Daniel Suárez, David Ragan and Matt DiBenedetto on “Fluffy Breaks Even” – Thursday, May 26 at 10 p.m. ET on Fuse
·         Chase Elliott on “Ridiculousness” – Thursday, June 2 at 10 p.m. ET on MTV

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Smoke Searches For First Coca-Cola 600 Win In Final Start
Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart ranks tied for 13th on the all-time victories list, but has never won the Coca-Cola 600.

The member of the Coca-Cola Racing family will attempt to capture his first checkered flag in his final start in NASCAR's longest race on Sunday.

Stewart's best finish in the Coca-Cola 600 was a third-place showing in 2001. In 33 starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway (tied with Matt Kenseth for the most among active drivers), Stewart claims one win (fall of 2003), six top fives, 13 top 10s and an average finish of 14.5.

To make NASCAR’s playoffs, Stewart must win a race and finish the regular season in the top 30 in points. He’s currently 37th in the points – 67 markers behind 30th-place David Ragan.

Quality of Racing A Sign Of Things To Come
A third of the way through the season, a ton of numbers have swirled around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – some small, some big, all pointing to fascinating racing.

Eight of the first 12 races this season have ended with a margin of victory less than one second, the most since 2010. (Note: Two of these races ended under caution, so there was no margin of victory.)

The average margin of victory so far has been .877 seconds – the third-closest margin of victory since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993.

Denny Hamlin's victory in the Daytona 500 by .010 seconds was the closest ever in NASCAR's premier event and tied for the seventh closest in series history. The margin was duplicated two weeks later at Phoenix when Kevin Harvick edged out Carl Edwards at Phoenix.

Track records for green flag passes for the lead (lead changes all around the race track while under green flag conditions) were set in three races this season: Atlanta Motor Speedway (44), Auto Club Speedway (51) and Bristol Motor Speedway (40).

At Talladega, there were 213 green flag passes for the lead, six passes for the lead shy of tying the record for most green flag passes for the lead in a single race since the inception of loop data in 2005.

In the latest event, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, there were 17 green flag passes for the lead, the most since 2013. Joey Logano's pass of Kyle Larson with two laps to go was the latest lead change in the All-Star race in the last seven years. Additionally, this season's All-Star race was the first in the last three years where one driver didn't lead for the entire final segment.