Darlington NASCAR: Truex takes dominant third win over Larson

Martin Truex Jr took his third NASCAR Cup victory of the season in round 12 at Darlington, leading 248 of the 293 laps to head Kyle Larson by 2.571s.

Darlington NASCAR: Truex takes dominant third win over Larson

The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver, the only driver so far this year to win more than once, was only briefly challenged following the final round of green-flag pit stops in the final 20 laps, but when Larson's tyres started to wear out he gradually slipped back.

The win is the 30th of Truex’s career and his second at Darlington, having last won at the 1.366 mile oval in 2016.

“We’ve won a bunch of stages here in the past couple of years, lady luck just had us here,” Truex said.

“We just had good balance, the car would do what I wanted it to do. It was really loose that last run and I was nervous with (Larson) catching us and we got mired in traffic. That’s always tough.”

Truex had won both stages before the all-important final segment, taking the lead for the first time on lap 22 from team-mate Kyle Busch - who was struggling with his tyres and suffered a puncture moments later to bring out the second caution of the race after Aric Almirola's early crash.

Busch made light contact with the wall, but managed to recover to second by the end of the second stage, albeit almost 15s behind Truex, followed by William Byron (Hendrick) and stage one runner-up Denny Hamlin (JGR).

Larson was penalised for speeding on pit road and was forced to start the second stage from the rear of the field, but the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver fought his way back to fifth by the end of the stage.

Larson then took second from Busch on lap 241 and in the final sprint to the flag showed full commitment in his attempts to stay with Truex by going three-wide and splitting the cars of Ryan Newman and Tyler Reddick – a move that could have easily ended in disaster.

But the Las Vegas winner didn't have enough to challenge Truex and had to settle for second, with Busch completing the top three ahead of Byron and Hamlin.

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro HendrickCars.com Throwback

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro HendrickCars.com Throwback

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Kevin Harvick hit the front early on after passing polesitter Brad Keselowski on lap five, but was never able to challenge the leaders thereafter and finished a quiet sixth on a difficult day for Stewart-Haas Racing - having losing Almirola early, his team-mate Cole Custer also crashed out following a tangle with Anthony Alfredo.

Chase Elliott started from the back of the grid after unapproved adjustments before the start, but came through the field to seventh ahead of Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher and Newman as only nine cars finished on the lead lap.

Results

Cla Driver Manufacturer Gap Laps Led
1 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota   248
2 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 2.571  
3 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 6.209 9
4 United States William Byron Chevrolet 17.067  
5 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 21.939 5
6 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 23.951 10
7 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 24.739  
8 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 26.667  
9 United States Chris Buescher Ford 27.077 1
10 United States Ryan Newman Ford 1 Lap  
11 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 1 Lap  
12 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 1 Lap 2
13 United States Joey Logano Ford 1 Lap  
14 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 1 Lap 3
15 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 2 Laps 10
16 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 2 Laps  
17 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 2 Laps  
18 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 2 Laps  
19 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 3 Laps  
20 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 3 Laps  
21 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 3 Laps  
22 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 3 Laps  
23 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 3 Laps  
24 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 3 Laps 4
25 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 3 Laps  
26 Anthony Alfredo Ford 4 Laps  
27 United States Michael McDowell Ford 5 Laps  
28 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 5 Laps  
29 United States J.J. Yeley Ford 7 Laps  
30 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 7 Laps  
31 Australia James Davison Chevrolet 7 Laps  
32 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 8 Laps  
33 United States Josh Bilicki Ford 48 Laps  
34 United States Cody Ware Chevrolet 105 Laps 1
35 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 187 Laps  
36 United States Cole Custer Ford 196 Laps  
37 United States Aric Almirola Ford 288 Laps  
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