Martin Truex, Jr. grabbed his third win of the season in a race that saw eleven different drivers lead laps and one Toyota after another blow right front tires, including Truex, himself.
Truex’s tire trouble came early enough in the race that he was able to overcome the challenge and bring home the bacon. He scraped the wall as well but not bad enough to end his day, unlike Erik Jones. Jones was the canary in the coal mine for Toyota with his tangle with the wall early in Stage 1. Low tire pressures sent several of his Toyota teammates into the wall including all but one of the Joe Gibbs stable, Kyle Busch.
The race package that NASCAR had its sights set on paid off again with one of the better races of the season. The combination of the race package, track conditions and temperature gave fans a real treat. With 600 miles to run, there was plenty of green flag racing and enough yellow flags to bunch the field back up for some wild side-by-side racing after a restart.
Truex had a decent car aside from the wall incident and there were enough cautions that the team was able to keep adjusting the car giving Truex what he needed as others in the race faded. Late race tire troubles also haunted Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney. Keselowksi had led 76 laps during the race but a blown rear tire sent him spinning onto pit road and pushing him to a 19th place finish. Joey Logano was the lone Penske driver in the Top 10. His team kept adjusting on his car all night and he managed to get back up front and finish 2nd.
Hendrick Motorsports saw all four of its drivers finish in the Top 10, pacing Chevy to lead the Top 10 with 5 cars. Chase Elliott led 43 laps, Bowman 8 and pole sitter William Byron led 31. Ford dominated the Top 20 with 12 cars, two of those in the Top 5. But in the end, Toyota still got the win and that is what matters most. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s have won 8 of the 13 races so far. That is just plain domination for the first half of the regular race season. It’s good to see Chevy getting back to running well, but at this rate, Toyota could easily win nearly 20 of the first 26 races.
You have to think that Logano and Keselowski have at least another win in them. Stewart-Haas racing is winless this year and keeping Kevin Harvick out of Victory Lane seems like an impossible task. Tony Stewart used to really come on strong in the summer, so there is hope that the organization can find a couple of wins soon. And one would hope that Chevy could nab at least one more win ahead of the playoffs. The upcoming road courses present an opportunity for a lot of drivers that the mile and a half tracks don’t.
In any case, I sure hope that the past couple of races are an indicator of what’s to come. Sure, the leader can still get out to a decent lead in clean air. But the overall racing that is going on is much improved over what we saw at the beginning of the season.