Martin Truex, Jr. led two hundred and forty-eight laps and held off a late charge from Kyle Larson to win Sunday’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. The victory is the third of the season for Truex and his second all-time at the “Lady in Black”, to go along with his “Southern 500” victory in 2016.
The veteran driver won both stages to become the first to ever win a segment at Darlington and then go on to park his car in “Victory Lane”. It was also another dominating day for Joe Gibbs Racing, as a JGR Toyota claimed a win at Darlington for the fifth time in the last eight races contested in the Pee Dee.
Truex, who is the Cup series only multi-time winner thus far with victories at Phoenix and Martinsville, says he and his team are dialed into the 750-horsepower, low down force package that was put in place for the race. For them, it’s a stark contrast from the 550-horsepower, high-downforce package used the previous two seasons.
“I love low down force, that’s all I’m going to say,” Truex told the media after the race. “All three races that we’ve won have been with this package. Big fan of this kind of racing.”
Larson finished two and a half seconds behind Truex after making a serious charge over the final twenty laps or so of the race. In those closing laps, he pulled off a gutsy move to split between Ryan Newman and Tyler Reddick to keep the pressure on the leader. Afterwards, he said that maneuver was as much brave as it was desperate.
“It was pretty intense, but that’s what I felt I needed to do to have a chance to win.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver echoed the sentiments of Truex with regards to the low down force package.
“A lot of fun,” Larson reflected after the race. “I don’t remember honestly how the high downforce was because I didn’t get to run here last year, but it was fun to be here during the day, my first daytime Cup race here, so it was cool to do that, and yeah, had a lot of fun slipping and sliding.”
Kyle Busch posted his 13th “Top 10” finish (3rd) in nineteen races at Darlington Raceway. William Byron was fourth, just ahead of Hamlin who rounded out the “Top 5”.
The NASCAR Cup series heads to Dover next weekend and will return to Darlington over Labor Day weekend for the annual running of the “Southern 500”.