After spending the better part of two decades competing in the NASCAR Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Martin Truex, Jr. has finally crossed under the checkered flag to finally score a victory at his home track.
Truex, a native of Mayetta, New Jersey, didn’t just cross the start-finish line as the leader, though, he absolutely slaughtered the field in Monday’s postponed Crayon 301, leading a race-high 254 of 301 laps on the way to his third victory of 2023.
“What we’ve been able to do here over the years is pretty remarkable, and to not win was really getting frustrating,” said Truex post-race. “James [Small] and I talked about it many times. We thought about it all weekend and talked about it with Christopher [Bell] before the race. He’s like, man, you’ve led more laps here than I’ve even raced in Cup.”
Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, which has found a great deal of success at the 1.058-mile facility over the years, Truex didn’t slow down throughout the event, winning both stages and the race for the seventh time in his NASCAR Cup Series career.
“Just really an awesome job by everybody. What a race car we had today. Just proud of the whole team. Pit stops were flawless. The race car was unbelievable,” Truex continued. “We had some challenges at times throughout the race and it was a handful at times, but we just kept our heads down, kept digging.”
The 43-year-old veteran was able to use an unreal restart with 25 laps remaining in the event, to jump from third to first in a single set of corners, getting around both Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick.
Though, the pass for the lead didn’t mark the end of a hard-fought victory for Truex, as the driver of the No. 19 had to maintain the lead throughout a pair of additional restarts, both of which came as a result of cautions caused by Joe Gibbs Racing teammates.
In the end, Truex was able to defend the lead against eventual runner-up Joey Logano in the final nine-lap stint of the event, crossing the start-finish line 0.394 seconds ahead of the defending Cup Series champion.
Despite putting together an excellent final run of the race, and looking like he had the car to challenge Truex, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion would have to settle for second place, his best finish since Martinsville in April.
Kyle Larson overcame a poor qualifying result and some struggles early in the event to finish in third, while Kevin Harvick maintained a fourth-place position on an alternative strategy to that of the winner.
Brad Keselowski, featuring brand-new partner BuildSubmarines.com for the first time this season, completed the top-five finishers from Monday’s 301-lap contest. Tyler Reddick, Denny Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, Austin Dillon, and Chase Briscoe completed the top-10.
Throughout the entire event, Aric Almirola was one of three drivers who were able to keep pace – or outrun – race leader Martin Truex, Jr. and contend for the lead without the help of strategy.
But, just moments after Almirola used a two-tire strategy call to take over the lead of the race, things went south when the right-rear tire on the No. 10 came loose, and causing the Tampa, Florida-native to crash into the wall, taking him out of the event.
After having to wait until Monday to compete at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway next weekend, as part of a quadruple-header weekend with the Xfinity Series, Truck Series, and ARCA Menards Series.
With only six events until the end of the regular season, Martin Truex, Jr. and William Byron are locked into an intense battle for the regular-season championship, in which the Joe Gibbs Racing driver holds a seven-point advantage over Byron.
Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Busch round out the top five in points, all of which sit more than a full race behind the leader in standings.
Ross Chastain, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, and Joey Logano also currently sit inside the top-10 in regular-season points, which would grant them some bonus playoff points heading into the 10-race post-season.
Race Results: 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Crayon 301 at New Hampshire: