Home Sweet Home: Martin Truex, JR dominates. wins first NASCAR Cup Series Race at NHMS

Story By: Terrill Covey

Photo By: Matthew Wiernasz

LOUDON – Monday may have been Martin Truex Jr.’s first NASCAR Cup Series win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but you would never know it by the way he dominated the Magic Mile during Monday’s rain-delayed Crayon 301.

Truex fended off early challengers Christopher Bell and Joey Logano early, and he had no challengers late as he led 254 laps en route to the victory.

“It’s no secret that I’ve been after this one for a long time,” Truex said. “It’s always been one I wanted so bad – maybe too bad at times. But it’s been well worth the wait to be able to do it finally today, and take home the lobster and put another win at Loudon with the name Truex on it.”

It took Truex 30 tries to lock down his first win at what he considers his home track, but he left no doubt on Monday.

“The car was super fast, again, like we’ve been in the past,” he said. “But it was fast all day long and not just in the first two stages, which is good.”

While Truex was thrilled with his car’s speed, runner-up Joey Logano left the track feeling a little frustrated, not with his second-place finish, but with the fact that his Ford couldn’t challenge Truex’s Toyota.

“The guys did a good job of putting us in position and making our car better throughout the race and we got where we could run in the top 2. We just weren’t quite as good as the 19,” Logano said. “We (Fords) don’t have quite enough yet. We still have a lot of work to do to catch the Toyotas. We can’t look at this and say this is good enough. We got smoked by the 20 and the 19 all day long. The 20 just screwed up enough times to keep him from leading every lap with the 19. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

Fellow Ford driver Brad Keselowski had mixed feelings about his fifth-place finish, though he agreed with his former teammate about the work that Ford needs to do to gain ground on the competition. He said his feelings about the day depending on which hat he is wearing.

“My owner hat: I want both cars to be competing for wins,” he said. “That’s not where we’re at. It’s frustrating. We have to find more speed. We have to get better to be the team we want to be to contend for playoff spots and race wins, and do that every week.”

From a driver’s perspective, however, he said he was happy to take what he thought was a 10th or 11th place car and drive it to a top five finish.

“From the driver’s side I’m fairly pleased. I felt like we had a 10th, maybe 11th place car today, and we brought home top 5 by being really solid on pit road and solid on moves we made on the track. I’m proud of that. So I guess wearing two competing hats today on how I feel.”

The only Chevy represented in the top five was third-place finisher Kyle Larson, who lined up next to Truex on a restart with eight laps to go when Logano chose to restart in the top groove behind Truex. He didn’t have enough to outrun Truex or Logano, but he said he feels like the podium finish is a good result for his Hendrick Motorsports team, which has historically struggled at Loudon.

“In my career short tracks have been the worst, but this year any time we go to a short track we’ve got a really great car,” Larson said. “I’ve won a lot of them and been third here, and maybe 4th at Phoenix. It’s been good. Hats off to Hendrick Motorsports.”

He said he was hopeful that Truex and Logano would race hard or make a mistake on the last restart, but he knew it was a long shot and didn’t want to risk a strong finish.

“Joey chose the outside because the top launches better,” Larson said. “I was just hoping I could launch okay on the bottom and maybe clear him off of 2 and then get racing with him. But everybody is so good that they don’t make too many mistakes. Joey and Martin were both able to get good jumps and cleared me off the line so I just had to kind of tuck in line and ride to the finish.”

For Truex and his Joe Gibbs Racing team, the win was his third of the season, and they hope to parlay this mid-season run into a regular season championship, and ultimately a series championship. Crew Chief James Small said the team’s consistency across different tracks is impressive, but the results are what really matter.

“We’re showing a strong pace across a variety of tracks, but it’s just about executing,” Small said. “You can do that all day and have things outside your control go wrong and take you out of it. So we just take every race one at a time, every week at a time and try to maximize it. We’ll see if we wind up there and if we can do it, but I feel really good about it right now.”

The win for Joe Gibbs Racing was the team’s sixth in the past 11 races at New Hampshire, and team owner Joe Gibbs said he feels like his team has a good grasp on the track and comes in with confidence every year.

“I think we have a real confidence when we come here,” Gibbs said. “Our guys believe they are going to run good. Christopher is good here and obviously, Martin was last year, and Denny has been.”

Crayon 301 results

  1. Martin Truex Jr
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Kyle Larson
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Tyler Reddick
  7. Denny Hamlin
  8. Bubba Wallace
  9. Austin Dillon
  10. Chase Briscoe
  11. Erik Jones
  12. Chase Elliot
  13. Michael McDowell
  14. Alex Bowman
  15. Chris Buescher
  16. Daniel Suarez
  17. Justin Haley
  18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  19. AJ Allmendinger
  20. Harrison Burton
  21. Todd Gilliland
  22. Ryan Blaney
  23. Ross Chastain
  24. William Byron
  25. Austin Cindric
  26. Ty Dillon
  27. Ty Gibbs
  28. Ryan Preece
  29. Christopher Bell
  30. Ryan Newman
  31. BJ McLeod
  32. Noah Gragson
  33. Corey Lajoie
  34. Aric Almirola
  35. Cole Custer
  36. Kyle Busch

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