NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr. surges late to win in overtime at Charlotte Motor Speedway – Charlotte Observer

Martin Truex Jr. is originally from New Jersey, but he’s making Charlotte Motor Speedway something of a second home.

He won the Coca-Cola 600 last season at the track and came third at this year’s iteration, building something of a reputation here. That he won Sunday’s Bank of America 500, his sixth win this year, only adds to that.

Truex was mostly a non-factor in the first two stages of the race, but in the last hundred laps or so, he burst through the pack and stormed to the front.

By the time the race was almost over, his lead was fairly cemented. A few late cautions sent the race into overtime, but by that point, only an absolute catastrophe could have kept him out of Victory Lane.

Race breakdown

Stage 1: Kevin Harvick started third and wasted no time racing to the front of the pack. He won the first stage, his fourth stage win this season, but also worth noting is that this is the first race since July where Truex didn’t earn any points in Stage 1.

Stage 2: Harvick swept the stages on Sunday, leading for almost the entire second stage. He did the same earlier this year at Atlanta in May.

Stage 3: Truex stormed from the middle of the pack to the front, and for most of the third stage he battled for that top position with Kyle Larson and Harvick. Ultimately Larson fell back and Truex pulled ahead, where he went on to win the race in overtime.

Three who mattered

Martin Truex Jr.: As if Truex needed another boost in the standings. He had already won more races this year than any other driver, and this win only further separates him atop the leaderboard.

Chase Elliott: Another runner-up finish for Elliott, who still hasn’t won his first Cup Series race – he’ll get there sooner rather than later if he keeps driving how he has been the past few weeks.

Kevin Harvick: Harvick helped himself a lot Sunday by winning the first two stages, and even though he couldn’t finish with a win, he drastically improved his chances of advancing to the third round.

Observations

▪  This was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last start at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and he finished 12th. His only win at the track came in The Winston (NASCAR’s All-Star race) in 2000.

▪  Ryan Newman narrowly missed advancing to the second round of the playoffs, and his luck didn’t improve at Charlotte. He crashed about 45 laps into the race and his car caught fire, ending his afternoon before it ever began.

▪  Kyle Busch won the last two races, but Charlotte – the only Cup Series track he hasn’t won on – was again unkind to him. He slammed into the wall on lap 136 and suffered significant rear damage, ultimately finishing the race 29th.

They said it

“Big time. We suck.” – Cole Pearn, Truex’s crew chief, on how important this win was considering next weekend’s race in Talladega and Truex’s past failures there.

Next race

Alabama 500

Where: Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Ala.

When: Sunday, Oct. 15 at 2 p.m.

TV: NBCSN.

Radio: MRN.

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