Martin Truex Jr. wins Southern 500 in shootout with Kevin Harvick
Martin Truex Jr. kept Kevin Harvick at bay in a 12-lap shootout to win the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
Truex grabbed his second win of the season and the fifth of the career, while Harvick finished second for the 23rd time since joining Stewart-Haas Racing.
“This is unbelievable,” Truex told NBC Sports. “Always loved this track, led a lot of laps here in my career. Something always happened.”
Truex led 28 laps Sunday night, bringing his career total at Darlington in the Sprint Cup Series to 126 laps, while leading 441 in the Xfinity Series.
The win is the second in the Southern 500 for Furniture Row Racing. The first came in 2011 with Regan Smith.
“So proud to get to victory lane with this group,” Truex said. “The pit crew was flawless tonight, they won us the race. They took a lot of heat last week for what happened (at Michigan).”
The win gives Truex, who has been snake-bitten many times this year, wins in two of the three biggest Sprint Cup races of the year - the Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. If it weren’t for a difference of .01 seconds in the Daytona 500, Truex could have been the first triple crown winner since Jeff Gordon in 1997.
“We’ve had a terrible string of bad luck, we’ve had super fast race cars” said Truex, who has finished in the top 10 only four times since his Coke 600 win in May. “I knew when the bad luck would stop coming, we’d start racking (wins) off. Tonight we weren’t the best car for once and we actually won, so that’s really cool.”
Truex had to keep from making a mistake while being chased by Harvick, who started from the pole and led a race-high 218 laps around the track “Too Tough To Tame.” The win marks the first time Truex has won more than one race in a season.
Filling out the top five was Harvick, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano.
HOW MARTIN TRUEX JR WON: The No. 78 led the final 12 laps following a late caution, holding off Kevin Harvick for the victory.
WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Kyle Larson led 45 laps and finished third in his 100th Sprint Cup start, a week after earning his first series win ... Joey Logano finished fifth for his second top five at Darlington ... Kasey Kahne finished seventh, earning his first top-10 finish in nine races (Sonoma) ... Ryan Newman led nine laps, equaling his season high (Bristol II) and finished eighth.
WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Brad Keselowski led 45 laps but had to pit for a loose tire twice before Keselowski finishing eighth … Brian Scott brought out two cautions, on Lap 114 and Lap 204. The second was a result of Scott crashing on the frontstretch after contact from Tony Stewart … Stewart, in his last Darlington start, would finish 35th, 50 laps down after losing an engine on Lap 316 … Lap 214 saw Jimmie Johnson spin out of Turn 4 and hit the inside wall nose-first. Johnson finished 33rd, 39 laps down … On Lap 261, Greg Biffle pancaked the outside wall to cause the sixth caution of the night before finishing 36th … Defending race winner Carl Edwards was forced to pit on a restart with 34 to go with a left front tire rub. Edward finished 19th, a lap down … Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer brought out the 10th caution with 18 laps to go after wrecking in Turn 1. Almirola earned his fifth DNF of the season and finished 32, 21 laps down.
NOTABLE: Kevin Harvick led his 1,000th lap of the season tonight, giving him 1,000 laps led in each of the last three seasons. Harvick also surpassed 10,000 career laps led, making him the sixth active driver to reach the mark ... Martin Truex Jr. is the 11th different winner of the Southern 500 in as many races ... Kyle Larson has top-10 finishes in all three of his Darlington start.
WHAT’S NEXT: Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN