Mondays at Dover seem to be made for Martin Truex Jr. At the site of his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in 2007, Truex battled from the back of the field Monday to win the rain-delayed Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway.
His first career win came at Dover in June of 2007, also on a Monday after a rain delay. His margin of victory in 2007 was 7.3 seconds, Monday it was 9.5 seconds.
“I promise it wasn’t easy,” Truex said. “It was a lot of work. It was tough. But this race car was just incredible. Just thanks to everyone who makes this possible. I can’t believe it.”.
After starting in the back of the field after twice failing pre-race inspection Sunday, Truex first took the lead on lap 239 from Alex Bowman as the field raced to the end of stage 2. After winning stage 2, Truex never looked back relinquishing the lead only during the final round of green flag pit stops and regaining the top spot on lap 346.
From there he was on cruise control in-route to the 21st win of his career and his second of 2019.
“We have one hell of a team and we came here with a new setup this time,” Truex who also won at Richmond last month said. “We had an older setup that won in 2016 and had been good but not good enough. Hats off to Cole (Pearn, crew chief), James (Small, engineer) and everyone with TRD (Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A.) back in California, Costa Mesa for awesome engines and horsepower.”
Bowman, who was also forced to start in the back, held on to tie his career best finish of second from a week ago at Talladega.
“This is the physically hardest race of the year for me for sure,” Bowman said. “We were in Martin’s way. I wish I was in his way at the end of the race. We at least had a shot at it. That’s really all you can ask for.”
After flipping and crashing out at Talladega, Kyle Larson had a clean race and secured a much needed third place finish, his best of the season and his first top-5 of 2019. Last year’s Dover winner Kevin Harvick was fourth.
“It was good to finally have a clean race,” Larson said. “I don’t think we’ve had a clean weekend all year long. I don’t know, what are we, 11 or 12 weeks into the season. It’s good to finally get a clean day, like I said. Thanks to our race team. Our pit crew did a good job today, as well.”
Chase Elliott who led from pole, won here last fall and early on seemed to have the car to beat. He led a race high 146 laps but faded in the second half and managed to hold on to finish fifth.
There were four cautions outside the stage breaks, first was a competition caution on lap 40 followed a Ricky Stenhouse brush with the wall on lap 40; Quin Houff who also got into the wall on lap 115 and finally Denny Hamlin who lost a tire and scrapped the wall then spun trying to get to pit road on lap 264.
Erik Jones was sixth, Joey Logano, who led 16 laps and won Stage 1 was seventh followed by William Byron and Clint Bowyer. Kyle Busch who never had a car to compete all race long still manage to charge from 15th in the closing laps to finish 10th and has now finished in the top-10 in all 11 races so far this season, tying a record set by Morgan Shepherd in 1990.
There will be little down time for the series as they head west to Kansas Speedway for Saturday’s nights Digital Ally 400. Truex however may be looking forward to the fall race at Dover and hoping it too might be delayed by rain.
“If we have to race here again on a Monday,” Truex said smiling. “I will be pretty excited about it.”
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Gander RV 400
Dover International Speedway
Monday, May 6, 2019
1. (13) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 400.
2. (5) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 400.
3. (3) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.
4. (6) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 400.
5. (1) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400.
6. (15) Erik Jones, Toyota, 400.
7. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, 400.
8. (2) William Byron, Chevrolet, 400.
9. (10) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 400.
10. (22) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 400.
11. (14) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 400.
12. (9) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 399.
13. (19) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 399.
14. (12) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 399.
15. (11) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 399.
16. (7) Aric Almirola, Ford, 399.
17. (18) Paul Menard, Ford, 399.
18. (21) Ryan Newman, Ford, 398.
19. (16) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 398.
20. (17) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 398.
21. (8) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 397.
22. (25) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 397.
23. (30) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 397.
24. (26) Michael McDowell, Ford, 395.
25. (23) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 394.
26. (24) David Ragan, Ford, 393.
27. (27) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 393.
28. (29) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 392.
29. (28) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 392.
30. (36) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 389.
31. (31) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 389.
32. (32) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 387.
33. (20) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 386.
34. (33) Cody Ware(i), Ford, 383.
35. (37) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Engine, 356.
36. (35) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, Too Slow, 168.
37. (34) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, Engine, 96.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 127.242 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 8 Mins, 37 Secs. Margin of Victory: 9.501 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 6 for 31 laps.
Lead Changes: 15 among 11 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Elliott 1-107;J. Logano 108-123;B. Keselowski 124-181;K. Harvick 182;K. Busch 183;W. Byron 184-188;M. McDowell 189;C. Elliott 190-223;A. Bowman 224-239;M. Truex Jr. 240-243;C. Elliott 244;M. Truex Jr. 245-319;C. Elliott 320-322;J. Johnson 323-326;D. Suarez 327-347;M. Truex Jr. 348-400.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Chase Elliott 4 times for 145 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 3 times for 132 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 58 laps; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 21 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 16 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 16 laps; William Byron 1 time for 5 laps; Jimmie Johnson 1 time for 4 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 1 lap; Michael McDowell 1 time for 1 lap; Kevin Harvick 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,2,9,42,4,24,88,12,20,14
Stage #2 Top Ten: 19,88,4,9,2,42,12,18,14,20