Truex takes care of busi­ness at Dover

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Dan Gel­ston

Martin Truex, Jr., picked up his sec­ond Chase win of the sea­son Sun­day, pulling away from the rest of the field for the vic­tory at Dover.

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 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 three-time 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 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 Coca-Cola 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.

Har­vick won last week at New Hamp­shire and was the only other driver to earn an au­to­matic berth in the sec­ond round.

Here are other items of note from Dover: SMOKE OUT >> Ste­wart, the 2002, 2005 and 2011 Cup cham­pion, will re­tire at the end of the sea­son with­out a fourth cham­pi­onship.

“I’ll tell you one thing, this one race, what­ever hap­pens, is not go­ing to de­fine the sea­son this team has,” Ste­wart told his team over the ra­dio.

He fell just short of keep­ing a drive for four alive.

“We kept mak­ing it bet­ter all day. That is as good as we had,” he said. GANASSI GAFFES >> Ganassi went from two Chase driv­ers to none.

Lar­son’s race turned into a dis­as­ter early when the No. 42 Chevro­let lost power. His Chevy was pushed to pit road and a bat­tery was changed. He then had to serve a pass-through penalty for hav­ing too many crew mem­bers over the wall dur­ing the pit stop.

Lar­son, one of the top, young driv­ers in the sport, had held the fi­nal trans­fer spot en­ter­ing the race.

Jamie McMur­ray saw his Chase end at Dover for the sec­ond straight sea­son. He bat­tled prob­lems in the No. 1 Chevy for most of the race be­fore he en­gine blew near the half­way point. McMur­ray was 13th and hoped to race his way into the next round. He held the fi­nal trans­fer spot head­ing into last year’s race and lost his spot to Dale Earn­hardt Jr. FIRST TO (AL­MOST) WORST >> Har­vick had to take a deep breath in thanks that he won last week at New Hamp­shire or he would have faced sure elim­i­na­tion. Har­vick’s No. 4 Chevro­let had a bro­ken track bar early in the race that sent the car to the garage. Har­vick re­turned more than 40 laps off the pace and fin­ished 37th. Har­vick, the 2014 Sprint Cup cham­pion, had never fin­ished last in a race in his ca­reer. JU­NIOR AND JEFF >> Earn­hardt watched the race from atop the pit box for the first time since his sea­son ended in July be­cause of a con­cus­sion. Jeff Gor­don fin­ished 10th in Ju­nior’s reg­u­lar 88 Chevro­let ride. Gor­don, who had re­tired at the end of last sea­son, has one more race left sub­bing for Earn­hardt later this month at Martinsville. DOU­BLE DIP >> Daniel Suarez won the Xfin­ity Se­ries de­layed a day by rain to kick off 600 miles of rac­ing. NASCAR ran its first Xfin­ity-Cup dou­ble­header since April 25, 2010, at Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way. UP NEXT >> The sec­ond round of the Chase opens at Char­lotte and Logano is the de­fend­ing race win­ner.

MEL EVANS — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Martin Truex Jr. cel­e­brates in Vic­tory Circle af­ter win­ning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries auto race, Sun­day at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speed­way in Dover, Del. Kyle Busch (18) was sec­ond.

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