Martin Truex Jr. played second fiddle to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin for the first half of Sunday’s Drydene 400 at the Dover International Speedway. Hamlin, led 219 of the first 228 laps in the opening race of the Round of 12.
Truex, would just stalk him all day as he and Kyle Larson would run second a third for those first 228 laps themselves.
But, Truex had a good run going and would not only catch, but pass Hamlin too, on Lap 229 to take over the lead for the first time of the day. He’d lead the next 15 laps and take his sixth stage win of the season as a result.
Truex, now had the car to beat. But, a pit road problem on his stop during the stage break cost him a win.
Truex’s rear tire changer fell when running from the right side to the left and what slight piece of bad luck took Truex from the lead to sixth. On a day that was so difficult to pass, Truex was lucky to make it back up to second.
That’s just how strong his car was.
“It was about everything to be honest with you,” Truex said of track position on Sunday. “We got the lead there at the end of Stage 2. Got that stage win. On the pit stop, we had the issue and lost track position and then the whole third stage we were behind. We were catching (Larson) at the end – we got close – but just unfortunate. We win and lose as a team. The guys will clean it up; I’m sure. It’s cool to come home second after that with how hard it was to pass.”
Still, Truex now has six top four finishes in his last seven Dover starts including a top two finish in both races run on the Monster Mile in 2019. He also has three top two finishes in four tries during this year’s playoffs and is clearly the favorite still to win this year’s championship next month.
Truex, led 132 laps in his win in the spring race but only had 15 circuits out front on Sunday.