Truex takes lead late and holds off Harvick
Runner-up blames trouble with slow pit stops; Larson is third, Hamlin fourth
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.
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.”