Martin Truex Jr. Wins Bank of America 500 In Overtime Finish At Charlotte Motor Speedwayby Hunter Thomas October 8, 2017
CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr. held off the field in NASCAR Overtime at Charlotte Motor Speedway to win the Bank of America 500, the first race of the Round of 12.
Truex Jr. was on his way to the victory, but on lap 327, Kyle Busch brought out the caution for the third time of the afternoon. On the restart, Truex Jr. lined up on the inside with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin to his outside. When the green flag flew, Truex Jr. in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, was able to stay out in front; however, on lap 333, the caution came out for the 10th and final time, when Kurt Busch slid up the track, hit Kyle Larson and spun through Turn 2. On the NASCAR Overtime restart, Truex Jr. got an even better jump on Hamlin and went on to win his sixth race of the season.
“Unbelievable win. Just a total team effort,” Truex Jr. said. “Every single guy – every guy on this team just did a perfect job today and I can’t be more proud of them and at this time of the year is just when you want it to happen. You dream about days like today. I don’t know if we had the best car, but we damn sure go it in victory lane.”
Chase Elliott, who started third on both of the last two restarts, finished second in his Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet. Elliott has now finished second for two consecutive weekends. Last weekend, he nearly won at Dover until Kyle Busch was able to get around him in the final laps. On Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Elliott led 12 laps and ran up front throughout the entire event.
“We needed to be a little better I think in the middle stage and not lose so much track position,” Elliott said. “That was where Martin came on and got his track position and we lost ours and it was just hard to get all of it back there toward the end. It was a hard-fought day and really, from where we were in those middle stages, I was proud of the way we fought back and were able to get back to the front. It’s frustrating to run like this. We’re definitely tired of running second. But, if we keep running like we are, hopefully the opportunities will be there.”
Finishing third was Kevin Harvick, driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford. Harvick started the race in third, and he led a race high of 149 laps. The finish is Harvick’s first top-10 since Chicagoland back in mid-September. At the end of the day on Sunday, Harvick said that he just wasn’t able to find enough grip in the closing laps to keep up with Truex Jr.
“I would get close and then I would get loose, and as the day went I just got looser on the entrance to the corners,” Harvick said. “The car started bouncing really bad and started losing grip as the VHT went away and kind of lost what I had at the beginning of the race – to arc it into the corner and do all the things I needed to do to get through the middle of the corner and be in the throttle. I knew where I was running was kind of questionable as to how long it would last, and the entry was the first part that gave up for me and I just had to be really cautious getting in there and that’s why I lost my speed from the first half of the race.”
Round of 12 competitors, Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray finished fourth and fifth.
Daniel Suarez finished sixth, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson.
During the Bank of America 500, there were only two cautions for multi-car accidents.
On lap 45, halfway through Stage 1, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer brought out the caution as they crashed along the backstretch. After Newman pounded the inside wall, his car caught on fire as he came to a stop on the apron in Turn 4.
“I’m not sure how it started,” Newman said. “I know I got tight underneath Clint and I’m not sure if he hit me and turned me on purpose or just hit me and ran out of room. I’m not sure if I stuck him in the fence before that, but we just kind of ran out of race track. It wasn’t intentional on my part.”
The second multi-car accident occurred on lap 267, when David Ragan spun in Turn 2. With nowhere to go, Danica Patrick made heavy contact with the right front of Ragan’s car.
Truex Jr. leads Larson in the NASCAR Playoff standings by 34 points. With the win, Truex Jr is guaranteed a spot in the Round of 8. Third in the standings is Harvick, who is 37 points back from the lead. Elliott is 47 points back in fourth, and Hamlin is now trailing the lead by 50 points.
The second race of the Round of 12 will be held at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, October 15. The Alabama 500 will broadcast live on NBC and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com