Truex takes lead late and holds off Har­vick

Run­ner-up blames trou­ble with slow pit stops; Lar­son is third, Ham­lin fourth

Baltimore Sun - - NASCAR PGA TOUR - By Pete Ia­co­belli

DAR­LING­TON, S.C. — Mar­tin Truex Jr. took the lead with 28 laps to go and held off Kevin Har­vick on the fi­nal restart to win the South­ern 500 on Sun­day night.

Truex started the sum­mer sea­son by lead­ing 588 of 600 miles to win at Charlotte on Me­mo­rial Day week­end. He closed the sea­son by out­rac­ing Har­vick on La­bor Day week­end for his sec­ond crown jewel win of the sea­son.

Har­vick had the dom­i­nant car — he led 214 of 367 laps — but this run was cut short by slow pit stops. At one point, Har­vick fell11 spots from first to 12th af­ter a 16.6-sec­ond stop. He bat­tled back to­ward the top, but could not chase down Truex.

Last week’s win­ner at Michi­gan, Kyle Lar­son, fin­ished third and Denny Ham­lin was fourth. Joey Logano was fifth, fol­lowed by Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Ryan New­man, Brad Ke­selowski and Chase El­liott.

Truex moved past New­man, who was lead­ing, on Lap 339 to take the lead and stayed in front on a fi­nal restart to win an­other of what was once con­sid­ered one of NASCAR’s most-prized races.

“This is un­be­liev­able,” Truex said. “I’ve al­ways loved this race track. I’ve led a lot of laps here and I feel like some­thing al­ways hap­pens. I’m proud to get to vic­tory lane with this group.”

It’s the sec­ond time in the past six South­ern 500s that sin­gle-car Fur­ni­ture Row Racing wound up in vic­tory lane. Re­gan Smith stunned the Sprint Cup garages in 2011 with his win here.

Truex, who made last year’s cham­pi­onship Chase and is locked in this year, is no sur­prise — and might have stamped him­self a sig­nif­i­cant con­tender for the Sprint Cup crown. “It was­def­i­nitely worth the wait,” he­said. Har­vick could not over­come his shoddy pit show­ing and was frus­trated with his team.

“We have cham­pi­onship cars and we’re just medi­ocre on pit road. It’s been that way for a few years,” he said.

JOSH HEDGES/GETTY IM­AGES

Mar­tin Truex Jr. cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning the South­ern 500 on Sun­day night in Dar­ling­ton, S.C. “This is un­be­liev­able,” Truex said. “I’ve al­ways loved this race track.”

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