Martin Truex Jr. gave team owner Joe Gibbs another reason to celebrate at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
Truex overcame an early flat tire after hitting the wall, then broke to the front on a wild final restart and won NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 for the second time in four seasons Sunday night.
It was the perfect cap to a landmark week for Gibbs and his race team. The three-time Super Bowl champion coach was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday. But according to Gibbs, it was Truex, in his first season with JGR, who delivered the program’s biggest moment.
“What was Wednesday?” Gibbs responded when asked if the race victory was bigger than the Hall of Fame.
Gibbs broke into laughter when reminded about his honor. “Obviously, I’m excited about tonight,” he said with a smile.
And Truex provided much of the excitement.
He slid into the Turn 4 wall during the first stage of NASCAR’s longest event, damaging his tire and seemingly putting his chances in serious jeopardy. But crew chief Cole Pearn radioed his driver that things were not that bad.
“I thought, ‘We’re done. How we going to fix this thing?’” Truex said. “I didn’t know how bad it was, (but) the guys worked hard, fixed it up.”
That steadied Truex the rest of the way, especially near the end when he drove low during a four-wide fight for the lead on the final restart.
Truex sprang out low and shot into the front past Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and David Ragan, who stretched four across the track. “You just never know what can happen,” Truex said.
Truex held off defending series champion and Team Penske driver Joey Logano — again preventing owner Roger Penske from becoming the first to helm winners at the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on motor sports’ biggest day.
Formula One: Lewis Hamilton won the Monaco Grand Prix to extend his championship lead over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton struggled with grip in the latter stages and was under constant pressure from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Martin-Truex-Jr-wins-Coca-Cola-600-after-hitting-13898501.php.