Race Weekend Central

Martin Truex Jr. Breaks 69-Race Winless Streak with Victory in 2015 Axalta 400 at Pocono

The wait is over and the furniture has been delivered. It has been a while since Martin Truex Jr. drove to Victory Lane. It’s been 69 races to be exact, dating back to Sonoma in 2013.

Coming into the 2015 season with some kind of vengeance, the New Jersey native has been no worse than fifth in the standings following the second race of the year. At Pocono Raceway, a track where Truex is fairly accustomed to, he brought Furniture Row Racing its second triumph in the team’s 285th start in NASCAR’s premier division in the Axalta ‘We Paint Winners 400.’

“Yeah baby, yeah,” Truex screamed on the radio as his flat black No. 78 Chevrolet crossed the finish line ahead of reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick.

Marking his first win since joining the team last year, Truex led a race-high 85 laps, which was the fourth straight event that he has led the most laps, along with fourth straight that he has led 80 or more. The 34-year-old is now locked in the Chase for the Sprint Cup for the third time in his career (2007 and 2012).

“Right now, we are as good as anyone out there,” Truex said in a post-race press conference. “Look what we have done the past four weeks. We went head-to-head with the big guys – the [Nos.] 48 and the 4. We have been right there with them. I think we are still growing and still getting better. I’m just excited to be a part of it and see what we can do.

“I know we are going to work hard – as hard or harder than anybody out there. It is pretty cool to see what a single-car team from Denver is doing…. It never gets better than this. It takes time to heal things, especially with what Sherry (Pollex, girlfriend) and I went through.”

Taking the lead from Carl Edwards on lap 15, Truex set sail with the clean air advantage. Battling for the lead with Harvick throughout the day, he was able to capitalize after crew chief Cole Pearn kept him out of pit road on a lap 94 caution when Alex Bowman spun out, prompting opponents to pit.

On a day where strategy to get clean air was the determining factor in the race, the No. 78 team stayed ahead on the restarts, including the final one with less than 20 laps to go. Pulling away from Harvick and six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Truex was able to end his dry streak.

“Well, we finally got it,” Truex said. “That is all I can say – we finally got it. We have had a great season. We have had everything it has taken to win races, we just haven’t gotten it done yet. I feel like we had the best car a few times today. This is a brand new racecar, and they have been working really hard lately.”

Polesitter Kurt Busch lost the lead to Edwards on the first lap, and failed to return to the top position throughout the 400-mile spectacle. Busch ended the day in fifth, which keeps him 14th in the championship standings after missing the first three races due to a suspension.

Jamie McMurray, who started 14th on the day, finished seventh for the second consecutive week. The driver for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates edged out teammate Kyle Larson, who ended the day in eighth.

Following an injury that made him sit out the first 11 races of the season, Kyle Busch earned his first top 10 of the year, finishing ninth at Pocono. Fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth ended the day in sixth after receiving a speeding penalty during a green-flag pit stop within the first 30 laps of the race.

Last year’s winner at Pocono, Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 11th on Sunday afternoon. With 50 laps to go, he was running in third, but dropped to the rear of the field after receiving rear-end damage, causing him to pit with just over 20 markers remaining in the race. He was able to make up seven position following a late-race restart and came back near the top 10.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. brought out the second caution of the day when his No. 17 car snapped around in turn 2. Brad Keselowski and Brett Moffitt got together on lap 130, which sent the No. 34 car into the wall coming off turn 2. The final caution came out with 18 laps remaining in the 400-mile race, when AJ Allmendinger got loose in turn 2, sending his No. 47 car into Ryan Newman‘s vehicle. Newman’s car was destroyed, which put him 39th when it was all said and done.

Ty Dillon earned a career-best result on Sunday in his fifth Cup Series race, finishing 18th, just ahead of his brother Austin Dillon.

The Sprint Cup Series returns to Michigan next weekend for the Quicken Loans 400.


About the author

Joseph started with Fronstretch in Aug. 2014 and worked his way up to become an editor in less than a year. A native of Whitestone, New York, Joseph writes for NASCAR Pole Position magazine as a weekly contributor, along with being a former intern at Newsday and the Times Beacon Record Newspapers, each on Long Island. With a focus on NASCAR, he runs our social media pages and writes the NASCAR Mailbox column, along with other features for the site.

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