Martin Truex Jr. put on a clinic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, winning his NASCAR Cup Series third race of the season in dominant fashion, leading 254 laps in the Crayon 301.
The driver of Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 swept all stages en route to the victory, the 34th of his career.
Truex previously won races at Dover Motor Speedway and Sonoma Raceway this season.
“What we’ve been able to do here over the years is pretty remarkable and to not win was really, really, getting frustrating,” Truex said post-race. “James [Small, crew chief] and I have talked about it many times, we thought about it all weekend. Been after this one a long time.”
The race was held on Monday (July 17) after inclement weather affected the forecast the previous day.
Pole sitter Christopher Bell led the first two laps, holding off Truex with a cross over move on lap 2, but it was only a matter of time before the No. 19 was out front, as Truex took the lead officially on lap 3.
The two continued to run out front in that order with Logano in third leading up to a planned competition caution on lap 30, but that caution came two laps ahead of schedule as AJ Allmendinger spun the No. 16 off of turn 2, bringing out the first caution of the race.
On the final lap of stage one, Kyle Busch’s bad weekend got worse, as the back end of the No. 8 car came around and he slammed the outside wall in turn 2, ending his day. After Corey LaJoie got into the wall in the same spot just after Busch, Busch was asked if there was any fluid on the track. However, after describing the car as “evil” earlier in the race, Busch denied any fluid being on the racetrack simply stating that the car just got away from him.
On the ensuing stage pit stops, trouble struck Bell’s team, as it had to bring the car back down pit road with a loose wheel. He was joined at the back of the field by Reddick, after a speeding penalty bit the driver of the No. 45.
The next break in the action wouldn’t come until lap 163, when Erik Jones got up into the wall in turn 3 and eventually spun off the wall in turn 4.
On the lap 169 restart, disaster struck for Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing team. Restarting from the lead, Almirola led the field into turn 1, before the right rear tire dismounted from the car, and the No. 10 slid up the track and into the outside wall.
“I knew it turned sideways on me in the middle of one and two, but before that just leaving pit road I thought it felt a little awkward, but once I started scrubbing my tires it felt normal,” Almirola said following the incident. “It’s encouraging to bring fast race cars to the track, it’s encouraging to run top five, it’s encouraging to have speed, but it doesn’t do any good when you don’t finish.”
Noah Gragson pounded the turn 1 wall with 31 laps to go due to what he thought was a brake rotor issue.
“Didn’t get the right front wheel on,” Gragson said. “Went out, made it on my out lap through one and two, three and four, and then going through one again, the thing came off of it. … I don’t know what to do anymore.”
Truex once again got away on the restart before Bell lost the back end of the No. 20 heading into turn 3, backing the car into the wall with 13 to go, once again bringing out the caution.
“Got loose over the bumps, spun out,” Bell said post-race.
On the final restart, Truex held offLogano and Larson to pick up his third win on the season and his first at the New England racetrack.
While Truex continued to add to his playoff points total sweeping all three stages on the day, the battle at the bubble stays tight, with now two points separating Bubba Wallace in 15th, Michael McDowell in 16th and Daniel Suarez in 17th.
The series returns next at Pocono Raceway for the HighPoint.com 400, to be held at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 23.
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