Truex dom­i­nates at Dover for 2nd Chase vic­tory of sea­son

Baltimore Sun - - WEATHER - By Dan Gel­ston

DOVER, DEL. — Martin Truex Jr. watched sea­son af­ter empty sea­son as other drivers hoisted tro­phies and cel­e­brated cham­pi­onships and won­dered if he was run­ning out of time to be­come a win­ner.

Bad cars, bad teams, bad luck.

What­ever the cause, Truex was a jour­ney­man driver seem­ingly doomed to a medi­ocre ca­reer. Now, what quan­ti­fies as a downer in Truex’s ca­reer re­birth is that he failed to ac­tu­ally sweep the first round of the Chase — but two of three is pretty dom­i­nant.

“We’re not mess­ing around, I guess,” Truex said. “We are here to get it done.”

Truex’s late-sea­son surge ex­tended Sun­day at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way in the Cit­i­zen Sol­dier 400 for his sec­ond vic­tory in the first three Chase races. Truex won for the fourth time this sea­son in the No. 78 Toy­ota and paired this Chase win with his open­ing vic­tory at Chicagoland.

“Kind of a bonus win,” crew chief Cole Pearn said. “We didn’t need it all.”

Well, plenty of other Chase drivers did.

Tony Ste­wart fin­ished 13th and the t hree- t i me NAS­CAR cham­pion was knocked out of con­tention in the first elim­i­na­tion race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup cham­pi­onship.

Chris Buescher and Chip Ganassi Rac­ing team­mates Kyle Lar­son and Jamie McMur­ray also dropped out of the Chase. The field was sliced from 16 drivers to 12.

Austin Dil­lon fin­ished Char­lotte Mo­tor Speed­way, Con­cord, N.C. Satur­day, 7 p.m. TV: Chs. 11, 4 eighth and moved from out­side the points cut­off of the Chase to a trans­fer spot and ad­vanced to the next round.

Kevin Har­vick, Kyle Busch, Brad Ke­selowski, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Chase El­liott, Jim­mie John­son, Denny Ham­lin, Carl Ed­wards and Kurt Busch joined Truex and Dil­lon in the next round that opens at Char­lotte Mo­tor Speed­way.

Kyle Busch was sec­ond, fol­lowed by Chase El­liott, Ke­selowski, Kenseth and Logano — the only five other cars that fin­ished on the lead lap.

Truex won his first ca­reer Cup race at Dover in 2007 and didn’t win again un­til 2013. But his ca­reer took off in his sec­ond year at Fur­ni­ture Row Rac­ing and he used a win at Po­cono last year to make the Chase and be­come one of four drivers rac­ing for the cham­pi­onship in the fi­nale.

His ca­reer ab­so­lutely ex­ploded with FRR and Toy­ota this sea­son. Truex led a stun­ning 392 laps in a Co­caCola 600 vic­tory and then won at Dar­ling­ton just two races be­fore the Chase opened.

He has led at least 140 laps in three of the last four races.

“The last month has just been ridicu­lous,” he said.

MEL EVANS/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Martin Truex Jr. cel­e­brates in Vic­tory Cir­cle af­ter win­ning at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way on Sun­day.

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