New Jersey native earns third career Dover International Speedway victory
It was another magic Monday for Martin Truex Jr. at Dover International Speedway.
Almost 12 years ago, the Mayetta, N.J., native won his first career NASCAR Cup Series race at the Monster Mile in an event that was postponed one day because of weather.
In today’s "Gander RV 400" Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, following another weather postponement, Truex earned his 21st career NASCAR Cup Series win, and received a golden Monster Trophy for his efforts as part of Dover International Speedway’s 50th anniversary celebration.
"We’re two for two on Mondays here," Truex said. "I saw the trophy in the driver’s meeting yesterday and I said that’s pretty awesome," Truex said. "That golden one is special. It’s pretty awesome to win on the 50th anniversary of Dover International Speedway."
Truex, driving the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, beat runner-up Alex Bowman to the checkered flag by 9.501 seconds, completing the 400 laps with an average speed of 127.242 mph across 3:08:37. It’s Truex’s third NASCAR Cup Series win at Dover and he’s the 17th driver to earn three or more Monster Mile wins.
"This track is a big reason why I got where I’m at," said Truex, who ran several Busch North Series (now the K&N Pro Series East) races at the Monster Mile while making his way up through the stock car ranks. "Without tracks like this, I wouldn’t have been able to put myself in position to be here."
Truex’s challenge was even more daunting after starting in the rear of the field at the race’s start due to a weekend inspection failure and he hadn’t made it to the top 10 by the end of the first stage (won by Joey Logano) at Lap 120. His first lap led was the final one of the second stage after he edged Bowman back to the stripe.
From there, Truex won the scramble off pit road, and controlled the race, taking the lead for the final time when Daniel Suarez was forced to pit on Lap 348. In all, Truex led 132 laps, just shy of Chase Elliott’s race-high 145.
"Starting in the back was a challenge," said Cole Pearn, Truex’s crew chief. "We had a really good car Saturday in practice. Martin did a great job getting through traffic. We were able to manage the race from that point on."
It was Joe Gibbs Racing’s seventh victory in 11 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races this season and the second for Truex.
"It’s a big deal for us," team owner Joe Gibbs said. "In pro sports, these things can come and go pretty quick. The hardest thing to do is stay up there. Our guys have done a great job adjusting to this package. We’re going to enjoy each one of these. The goal is to stay up there."
It was just the third out of Dover’s 99 NASCAR Cup Series races to be postponed to a Monday due to weather. The previous Monday races came on May 19, 1975 (won by David Pearson) and Truex’s first win on June 4, 2007.
Bowman also started from the back following a weekend inspection failure before finishing second, followed by Kyle Larson in third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Elliott in fifth. Eleven cars finished on the lead lap in a race that featured 11 leaders, 15 lead changes and six caution flags for 31 laps.
"To come here to, in my opinion, the hardest race track we go to, and run like that from the back of all things, was pretty special," Bowman said. "This is the physically hardest race of the year for me for sure."
The Monster Mile’s 50th Anniversary celebration continues on Oct. 4-6 with another NASCAR tripleheader weekend. The schedule features the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race on Friday, Oct. 4, the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff race on Saturday, Oct. 5 and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race on Sunday, Oct. 6. The Oct. 6, 2019, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff race will be the 100th NASCAR Cup Series race in track history. Dover International Speedway will be the 10th track in the nation to host 100 NASCAR Cup Series races.