Race Weekend Central

Martin Truex Jr. Snaps Winless Streak with Dover Victory

It took 24 more hours than he had originally hoped, but Martin Truex Jr. took the lead late, held off Ross Chastain on a late restart and won the NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover Motor Speedway, snapping a 54-race winless streak.

The win is Truex’s fourth at Dover. Three of those four have come on a Monday. The track is also the site of Truex’s first career Cup win back in 2007.

The win also completes the brotherly weekend sweep, as his brother Ryan won his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday (April 29). Even more special, it’s the Truex brothers’ home track on the national NASCAR circuit, just 130 miles or so away from their hometown of Mayetta, N.J.

“It’s just special, you know?” Truex said in a post-race interview. “This is a special place. It was such a big day for our family to see Ryan do that on Saturday. He’s worked so hard for so long to get good opportunities, it was awesome to see him take advantage of that.

“For us, we’ve given away a few here over the years, and it feels nice to get one to come around our way for once.”

Chastain finished second, followed by Ryan Blaney, William Byron and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top five.

Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher and Josh Berry (substituting for the injured Alex Bowman) completed the top 10, respectively.

Following the postponement of the race from Sunday (April 30) to Monday (May 1), the green flag fell around noon local time, and Kyle Busch dominated the first 20 laps from the pole until the competition caution came out. Busch was then tagged for speeding on pit road and had to start in the back. This proved costly for Busch.

The caution flew immediately on the lap 28 restart for Noah Gragson, who had spun off of turn 2 – he would be parked a few laps later for failing to meet minimum speed.

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A few laps following that restart, Daniel Suarez got loose, slapped the outside wall and then spun across traffic into the inside wall. As the field stacked up to avoid the spinning No. 99, Busch ran into the back of Ty Dillon, spinning him into the outside wall before backing his No. 77 hard into the inside wall. BJ McLeod was also collected in the wreck.

On lap 81, Chastain spun Brennan Poole going into turn 1, who spun back up the track and crashed hard into the outside wall, collecting an innocent Kyle Larson in the process.

“I did not mean to do that,” Chastain told his team on the radio.

Poole and Larson, however, felt the opposite. Said Larson on his radio, “What a (expletive) idiot! Ross just (expletive) wrecked him. We’re in the first stage!”

“I felt like I just got run over for no reason, 80 laps into the race,” added Poole in an interview with FOX Sports. “Doesn’t make any sense to me, but I guess that’s something he’s been known to do (in the Cup Series) recently. He needs to get his butt whooped.”

Since Busch’s penalty, the two dominant cars of the day were Byron and Hamlin. And it showed too, as Byron won stage one with Hamlin hot on his heels. However, Hamlin had a little trouble on his pit stop at the end of stage 1, when his jackman tripped over the air hose at the front of the car and the team lost time. Hamlin ended up restarting eighth.

Similarly, Keselowski, who finished fourth in stage one, had a penalty for an uncontrolled tire after the tire was not caught by the crew behind the pit wall and Keselowski took off, hitting the tire and sending it out into the pit lane.

About halfway through stage 2, it seemed the balance of Byron’s car fell off, as Chastain ran down and passed the No. 24 en route to the win in stage two, which also went caution free. Byron still managed to finish second in the stage, but adjustments were needed so he could return to the lead.

Stage two was the turning point for Truex. The FOX broadcast picked up some audio of Truex and his crew chief, James Small, arguing back and forth, with Small continually yelling, “Just drive the car!” That seemed to motivate Truex, as he surged from the back half of the top 10 to finish fourth in the stage.

Meanwhile, about the same time Truex flew through the field, Kevin Harvick had a tire issue and dropped from fourth to 14th at the end of the stage.

Byron won the race off of pit road and took off at the start of the final stage but it seemed to be more of the same in regards to balance issues, as Chastain ran him down again and passed him for the lead. Less than a lap later, Truex passed Byron for second. On the final set of green-flag pit stops, Truex pitted one lap earlier than Chastain, leapfrogging him and assuming the lead on lap 331.

Chastain managed to catch Truex with under 50 laps to go and dogged the rear end of Truex’s No. 19 for several laps, trying multiple lanes to set up a pass. However, when the two leaders were clear of lapped traffic, Truex pulled away.

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On lap 386, Joey Logano, who had struggled the entire day with handling and corded right front tires, snapped loose and slammed the outside wall in turn 4, bringing out a late-race caution.

Small made a bold pit call to give Truex two tires while Chastain took four. Truex held off a hard charged restart from Blaney with seven laps to go, and then proceeded to hold off Chastain who had moved through to second, to win his first race since Richmond in September 2021.

“This car was a hot rod, we just had to get it to the front,” Truex added.

Cup Dover Results

The Cup Series will head to the midwest to Kansas Speedway for the AdventHealth 400. Coverage will begin Sunday, May 7 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. 

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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