MARTIN TRUEX JR. DRIVES TO A DOMINATING VICTORY IN DARLINGTON
Martin Truex Jr. scores his series-leading third win of the season
DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 9, 2021) – Martin Truex Jr. led 248 of 293 laps and scored a dominating victory in the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday evening. It is Truex’s third win of the season and 30th of his NASCAR Cup Series career. It is Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota’s fifth win of the year.
Toyota Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Race 12 of 36 – 400.2 miles, 293 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
2nd, Kyle Larson*
3rd, KYLE BUSCH
4th, William Bryon*
5th, DENNY HAMLIN
14th, CHRISTOPHER BELL
21st, BUBBA WALLACE
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., No. 19 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
No stage winner has ever won at Darlington, but you broke that curse today.
“I’m glad I could do that. We have won a bunch of stage over these last few years – just Lady Luck always got us. Track position, it would be one thing or the other. I’m extremely proud of everyone on this Auto Owners Camry. I think this flat black is a throwback to you, Regan (Smith), when you won here. It’s really cool to throwback to Furniture Row. Hopefully Barney Visser (owner, Furniture Row Racing) is out here watching. I know, Regan, you and I both owe him a lot, but this one is for Furniture Row. It’s pretty cool.”
Your car was so close to the fence. Was your car that good that you could manage that?
“We just had a good balance. The car would do what I wanted it to do. I just had to manage those long runs. It was really loose that last run. I was nervous when the 5 (Kyle Larson) was catching us. We got mired in some traffic there, and that’s always tough. Thanks to Auto Owners, Bass Pro Shops, TRD, Toyota, Cessna, Noble Aerospace, Garmin, Oakley, everybody that helps us, Reser’s Fine Foods. We are really lucky to get to do this. I’m so lucky to get to drive for these guys. What an awesome team we have. Hopefully, we can keep this rolling.”
How good was your car today?
“I thought at times it could have been better, but obviously, it was better than everybody else’s and that’s the key with this low downforce. Even this thing was a handful at the end of those long runs. You just have no tires left and you are sliding all over the place and you can’t get ahold of it. You are just trying to manage your stuff. Awesome job by our Auto Owners Camry team today. Everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). It was definitely a hot rod. It looked like all of our cars were pretty good too. Good day for the company. I’m really happy to win on Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mom’s out there, especially mine.”
How challenging is it to manage a car this good?
“If you pull off the wall, you are four tenths slower, and your tires get burnt off. I ran where I had to run. That’s the reason I was fast – because of where I was running. That risk is what you have to do to be fast on a long run. It worked today, and hopefully, we will be able to come back here in the fall and do it again. I’m just real excited to be able to win here again. This is an awesome place; throwback weekend is really special. This is a good one. This is a big one. Even though this isn’t the Southern 500, it is pretty damn cool to win at Darlington, no matter when it is.”
How good do you feel as the only driver with three wins?
“No question, we feel really, really good about that. I think the most important part is we are winning with the low downforce package, which most of the Playoff races we run are. Phoenix was a really, really big confidence booster for us – to go there and win. I feel like we’ve carried it since there. We just have to keep this thing going. Guys are doing a really good job, all around. It’s so fun to drive race cars like that. I’m just so thank for all of those guys that work so hard – men and women back JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) for the job they do. Toyota, TRD for giving us all the help they do with the engines and everything else. It takes a lot of people to make these cars go fast, and I’m really lucky to be able to sit behind the wheel of this one today.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
Third-place today, Kyle. Solid day, but were you just missing a little bit overall?
“Yes, solid day overall. Definitely better than some of our other 750 package races, but just missing a little bit on the long run. It seemed like we could fire off with (Martin) Truex there and hang with him a little bit. Actually, we would catch him for about five laps and then it was over. Just trying to hold on after that point. Overall, real good day. I’m real proud of Ben (Beshore, crew chief) and the guys. We’ve been doing a lot of work on some stuff. We’ve been talking a lot and communication is going well. It seems like we’re getting a little bit better, overall, clicking as a group which is good. We can build on this momentum here and hopefully take it on into Nashville, which is a similar package racetrack as this one. Good day, good effort. The M&M’s Camry was fast. Thanks to Interstate Batteries, Rowdy Energy. We will be heading home.”
How nice is it to backup last week’s win with another good performance this week?
“This was definitely a good weekend for us. The 750 races haven’t necessarily been our best. We’ve run 750 short tracks, not 750 intermediates. This was a good basis for us. I felt like our cars – 2017, 2018 time frame were always really good. I feel like this is kind of a cookie-cutter for the (Martin) Truex Jr. type era if you will. Obviously, it paid dividends for him today. Felt like we were close there for about 10 laps and then we just kind of lost the rear tires on the long runs. Just couldn’t hang, but overall the guys gave me a great M&M’s Camry to backup last week and hopefully build on a little bit of this today for Nashville.”
With these strong runs at Playoff tracks, does that give you confidence?
“I think the biggest thing is just being able to unload fast and consistent and good. We actually drove up to the lead today on the restart there and got the lead and then had a tire go down. I thought that was the end of our day, but we were able to salvage something out of that without being able to tear up the car worse than we did. Then to be able to get back through the traffic and have good pit stops today. The pit crew did a good job. All around, it was a good day, just lacked a little bit of overall speed to maintain with the 19 (Martin Truex, Jr.) there on the long runs.”
How good do you feel after today or does it bother you that the 19 beat up on everybody?
“I don’t know why there’s a five, six, 10 second difference, whatever it is, between us and the 19. Just overall, there’s a little bit of a disconnect with where the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) was on overall speed. They would drive out on us eight seconds or whatever it was so I think that distance right there, why can my teammate run eight seconds on me. We should be able to keep the gap closer than that so that’s where I feel like we really have to work.”
How is your team overall right now?
“I think things are going good. We’re talking a lot – Ben (Beshore, crew chief) and myself and the group. We’re clicking a little bit and we’re trying to get everybody on the same page where I like to feel a car, drive a car, that sort of stuff. Today, I felt like we were a little off on that. I didn’t quite have the feel that I was looking for until that last run. The last run was our best run I thought, but that was just a little too late. The field got spread out by that point.”
How did you feel the racing was with this package?
“I don’t know. It was a lot of give-and-take I guess. There was a lot of slipping and sliding. The grip level was so low that I think everybody was really, really tentative and just trying to hang on most of the day so it was hard to get alongside somebody or race alongside somebody. Guys did do that and all it would do is bring in everybody behind you and get people to pass you. Just a lot of sliding.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
Got up to the front at one point, stayed out on old tires and made that work. Did you just not have enough in the end?
“I don’t know if we made it work. We were the best car, I thought, at that moment. We ran down the 19 (Martin Truex, Jr.) and didn’t get the call quite soon enough to pit there. We stayed out. We stayed in the top-five, but we lost our position to the 19 and it just compounded. We had a little worse track position and then lost the handle of the car a little bit, but overall, didn’t have quite enough there at the end to contend.”
What did you think of your race car overall today?
“I honestly thought we had the best car for the first 150 (laps) and then we got off-sequence there by staying out, which we thought everyone was going to stay out to save tires. I should have just came when everyone else was coming, but I didn’t make the call and Chris (Gabehart, crew chief) made it too late. Either way, we stayed in the top-five and then we got third on that restart and I just didn’t have the car that I had before. Lost some grip. I think the track burned in a little bit and we just lost the advantage that we had for the first 100 (laps).”
Is it difficult to see your teammate be able to gap you and Kyle Busch so much during the race?
“We’ll dive through it. Myself and my crew chief are too tough of competitors to not dig into that. Honestly, it’s probably the worst butt whooping we’ve had all year and still top-five. We expect to run a little better than what we did today.”
How did you feel the racing was today with this package?
“It was slick. This package was really slick and I knew before the day started that the cars were going to feel terrible, just feel absolutely terrible – even when you’re good. That was the case most of the time, even when I was catching (Martin) Truex Jr. there at the end of the first stage, the car was all over the place bad. That’s the high horsepower, low downforce. Just sliding all over the place. It was a lot of fun to drive. You had to work for all 400 miles at this race track. I thought from a statistics standpoint, they’re going to say it’s not a good race because Truex dominated, but it was a driver’s race track today.”
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