New Jersey Proud: Martin Truex Jr. Wins First Monster Energy Cup Series Championship

Martin Truex Jr. celebrates his first NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

From Wall Stadium to the top of the NASCAR World.

Mayetta, N.J. native Martin Truex Jr. closed out a dominant season in perfect fashion, winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch his first NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series victory.

Truex is the first driver from New Jersey to win the title.

“It’s just overwhelming,” a tearful Truex said in Victory Lane. “To think about all the rough days and bad days, the days that we couldn’t run 20th, to be here—I never thought this day would come, and to be here is so unbelievable.”

The second generation driver got his start racing at Wall Stadium in Wall, N.J. and was a former winner on NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (then Busch North Series). Truex followed in his father’s footsteps to the series and was a two-time winner with the division at Stafford Motor Speedway and also a winner at Thompson Speedway with the series.

Truex was one of four drivers chasing the title on Sunday as part of NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship. Truex was competing against Kyle Busch (second), Kevin Harvick (fourth) and Brad Keselowski (seventh) for the title.

Truex had four victories in the first 26 Monster Energy Cup Series events in 2017 and then carried that dominance to the playoffs. In 10 playoff events he had four victories and top-five finishes in all 10 events.

He finished the season with career highs in wins (eight), top-fives (19), top-10’s (26) and laps led (2,250). He led the series in all those categories.

It was the first championship for the Denver, Colorado based Furniture Row Racing team, owned by Barney Visser, was was in Denver recovering from a heart attack and subsequent bypass surgery.

With an excellent long-run car, Busch slipped to fourth after the final restart on Lap 234 of 267 and needed nine laps to pass the stubborn No. 22 Ford of Joey Logano. Seven laps later, Busch slipped past fellow Championship 4 contender Kevin Harvick into second and set his sights on Truex.

Busch closed rapidly, but Truex found a line that allowed him to maintain an edge that shrank to as little as two car lengths. But Busch never could pull alongside his fellow Camry driver, and Truex inched away over the last four circuits.

“I told my guys we were going to dig deeper than we ever have today, and (with) 20 (laps) to go, I thought I was done – they were all better than me on the long run all day long,” Truex said. “I just found a way. I found a lane that I could use, and I found a lane that was blocking enough of their air that they couldn’t use it and just made it happen.

“I can’t believe it. I’ve wanted this since I was a little kid and just never give up. Just never give up on your dreams, no matter what happens and what kind of crap you go through. And thank you, Barney. I wish you were here, buddy.”

Kyle Larson finished third, closely trailing the championship battle after moving past Harvick for third on Lap 252. Harvick came home fourth, after debris from David Starr’s Chevrolet punched a hole in the nose of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

“I was just really loose the whole last run,” Harvick said. “When it started to get dark, we started to get tight in the corner, and then we got a hole in the nose. We got that fixed and just couldn’t quite get it where we needed to be to make good times.

“Some runs we fell off. Some runs we were tight on entry. There at the end we were just too loose.”

Chase Elliott and Joey Logano ran fifth and sixth, respectively. Playoff driver Brad Keselowski finished sixth, ending the season fourth in the series standings.

Busch opted for a one-pit-stop strategy during the final stage of the race and appeared headed for the title until his brother, Kurt Busch, spun in Turn 4 on Lap 227 to bring out the fifth and final caution of the event and bunch the field for the restart on Lap 234.

“Yeah, it wasn’t quite what we wanted there at the end,” Busch said. “I thought we had a really great race car. Especially on the long runs, we were really, really good. Just came down to there at the end, not having enough tire when I got to the 78.

“So I just overused my stuff, and I knew I overused my stuff when I was running with the 22 (Logano) trying to get by him and just overworked everything, and got to the 4 (Harvick), got by him pretty quick. I tried to make sure that I could do that pretty quick so then I could have at least a little more tire life, but didn’t seem to pay me off any when I got to the 78.”

Notes: Earnhardt finished 25th in his final run in the No. 88 Chevy… Danica Patrick cut a tire and clobbered the Turn 2 wall on Lap 142 in her final trip in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. She plans to race in the Cup series for the final time in the 2018 Daytona 500… Patrick also collected Kasey Kahne in her wreck. Kahne ran his final race for Hendrick Motorsports on Sunday and will move to the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet next season… Truex’s teammate, Erik Jones, was crowned Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the series after finishing 21st. Jones will take Matt Kenseth’s place in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs racing Toyota next season. Kenseth finished eighth Sunday in his final ride in the car.

(NASCAR Wire Service report included in this story) 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Ford EcoBoost 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Homestead, Florida
Sunday, November 19, 2017

1. (2) Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 267.
2. (3) Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 267.
3. (7) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267.
4. (9) Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 267.
5. (18) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 267.
6. (19) Joey Logano, Ford, 267.
7. (5) Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 267.
8. (4) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 267.
9. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267.
10. (21) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 267.
11. (17) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.
12. (16) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 267.
13. (13) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 266.
14. (26) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 266.
15. (6) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 266.
16. (15) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 265.
17. (30) David Ragan, Ford, 265.
18. (20) Aric Almirola, Ford, 265.
19. (12) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 265.
20. (29) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 265.
21. (14) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 265.
22. (8) Kurt Busch, Ford, 265.
23. (28) Landon Cassill, Ford, 265.
24. (23) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 265.
25. (24) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 264.
26. (32) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 264.
27. (22) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 264.
28. (33) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 264.
29. (11) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 264.
30. (31) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 263.
31. (34) Corey LaJoie(i), Toyota, 261.
32. (36) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 259.
33. (27) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Accident, 234.
34. (10) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, Brakes, 225.
35. (37) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Engine, 212.
36. (38) * David Starr(i), Chevrolet, Brakes, 175.
37. (25) Danica Patrick, Ford, Accident, 139.
38. (39) * Ray Black II(i), Chevrolet, Too Slow, 49.
39. (35) * Joey Gase(i), Toyota, Accident, 4.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 131.9 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 02 Mins, 11 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.681 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 5 for 26 laps.
Lead Changes: 13 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: 0; M. Truex Jr. (P) 1-12; K. Larson 13-82; B. Keselowski (P) 83; K. Larson 84-121; K. Busch (P) 122-123; K. Larson 124-145; K. Busch (P) 146; K. Larson 147-161; M. Truex Jr. (P) 162-175; K. Busch (P) 176; M. Truex Jr. (P) 177; K. Busch (P) 178-216; M. Truex Jr. (P) 217-267.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Larson 4 times for 145 laps; M. Truex Jr. (P) 4 times for 78 laps; K. Busch (P) 4 times for 43 laps; B. Keselowski (P) 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 42,2,18,4,78,24,41,11,22,14
Stage #2 Top Ten: 42,78,4,18,2,41,20,22,24,11

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Comments

  1. darealgoodfella says:

    Congratulations!!

  2. The four finalists for the title. One from California, one from Las Vegas, one from New jersey and one from Michigan. That’s good right?

  3. Congrats to Martin and the entire Furniture Row team. Seems not so long ago we were watching you and your father running the Busch North series at Stafford. Finally a champion who was the best car all season.

  4. Just Wondering says:

    The good: Its great to see a local boy take home the championship. Congrats to Martin!

    The bad: the thousands of empty seats at the final race of the season. When is NASCAR going to wake up and do something that will fix the downward spiral in attendance? Its obvious the quirky gimmicks such as the chase and playing with the race format is not helping. More and more fans are leaving the sport and now with Junior retiring and no real replacement in the wings, the downward spiral may actual increase in momentum.

  5. darealgoodfella says:

    It was stunning how empty the place was. Especially since it was the last Jr. race.

    It will be a tough couple years for NASCAR.

  6. Attendance has been declining for some time now at cup events and I don’t think it will decline further just because Jr. is retiring.

  7. NASCAR cares more about His girlfriend then actually talking about Martin’s racing. Overall the race was exciting.

  8. I soooo disagree Humphry, when SR passed away was the start or NASCAR decline but a lot of his fans turned to JR.now that he is gone and you add the overall loss of interest and dislike the direction NASCAR is going, I think attendance will drop a lot more!!

  9. sour grapes of wrath says:

    the chase contenders all showed humility with the exception of kyle bush ..he was essentially handed a championship and then today complains about Logano racing him???? you lost!… truex was able to keep you at bay and earned it!!! ..even the great coach gibbs cant fix this idiot.. no wonder the stands were half full. NASCAR is an embarrassment. I am a new fan of dale jr after his comments yesterday involving his team and allowing the credit to go where its supposed to .. class act !! good luck JR I think he is now comfortable with who he is ..no longer in his dads shadow…

  10. Fast Eddie says:

    CONGRATS TO DA JOISEY BOY AND CREW!! One of my favorite Truex races was one yearts ago at New Hampshire Speedway running Busch North. He held off the 2nd place driver that dominated NHS events at the time. I think that’s the event that got him firmly on the NASCAR radar at the time.

  11. Crazy in NY says:

    Truex Nation will save NA$CAR.

  12. Don’t know truex seems like a very nice guy had a great car all year Humphry i hope your right if not nascar is in worse trouble I see them on a downward spiral

  13. darealgoodfella says:

    Dale Jr. better become a Cup car owner quickly and get some cars in the series so Jr. Nation will stick around. Jr. had all four championship contenders in the xfinity series, and that was a race. Hope he can revive the Cup series from the outside.

  14. Congrats MTJ finally a true champion comes from this chance format and it couldnt have been someone more deserving

  15. Dareal JR had 3 teams not 4 in the final , think it’ll be awhile before nascar is back , I thought Bob Bahre was crazy to sell New Hampshire , now he looks like a genius could never get same money today

  16. darealgoodfella says:

    Thanks Elect, got some bad info I guess. With NHMS the only major league track in the area, one would think it would do better. But the empty seats and low ticket prices are undeniable.

  17. Just Wondering says:

    NASCAR fans are voting with their feet more and more. Us fans are getting tired of NASCAR’s WWF mentality and their manipulating of the races. As for NHIS, I think they are in deep trouble. Can you imagine being able to buy a Cup ticket ($25) at a cost less the WMT at local tracks? I’m not saying the WMT racing has more value than the Cup races as the WMT is boring as well with very little passing for 90% of the race until its crunch time.

  18. Amazing how NHMS went from a 5-year waiting list for tickets to removing grandstands and still having plenty of empty seats on raceday. Where’d everybody go? Maybe I wasn’t so far off years ago asking the NHMS reps at car shows “When are you going to have kid tickets on Sunday?” THen they would smile and avoid answering. My kids are in their 20’s now and still go to an occasional race with me when available, although most of our NHMS appearances used to be on Saturdays. NASCAR has Sunday deals now, but they lost a generation of fans, and it shows.

  19. You are spot on Eddie the kids have no interest they would rather play video games that’s why we can’t get no one to work on race cars neither.I hope it gets better

  20. Plenty of kids still play with cars… They just don’t resemble anything running in any NASCAR division.

    Besides my season ticket at Stafford, I attend several road racing events, Indycar at Pocono, and NHRA national events. Unfortunately, I missed the Red Bull Rallycross… Attendance has been noticeably increasing, as well as younger demographically, at all the non-NASCAR events I attend.

    One thing to note, paddock access is available and 100% free at NHRA, IMSA, TransAm, and WEC events, and available for an extra cost at Indycar events. Getting up close to drivers and equipment, as well as having production-based cars in some classes in some series, goes a long way towards getting new folks excited.

    Also, in road racing, not only are many of the cars production based, the series provide free apps to track live timing and scoring, as well as view replays, and fans sit on blankets and lawn chairs, there are no grandstands to sit crammed between two sweaty strangers. The non-production cars in both road racing and Indycar are extremely technically advanced and very interesting to tech-saavy people.

    Several years ago, NASCAR bought IMSA, a competing road racing sanctioning body, and merged in with their Rolex / GrandAm road racing body. It’s not like they don’t know about the different experiences for fans at road races compared to stock cars.

    I absolutely love modifieds on short tracks, but at 52, I grew up going to the Danbury Racearena. It’s HARD for me to get new people to stock car races more than once or twice, but people I bring to other forms are instantly hooked and ask to return before I ask them.

    I used to go to every Cup weekend within a 6 hour drive of CT in the 90’s, but completely lost interest in sitting in three hours of traffic, crammed stands, purchasing “seat licenses”, or being forced to park our tow vehicle under the awning of our RV for four days.

  21. Very good points Barry they need to show the young kids how they work when I have had them in the shop they realize it’s pretty cool

  22. darealgoodfella says:

    Geez, it’s too easy to get most of you to chase shiny objects.

    Back on topic…

    Congratulations Martin Truex!!!!

  23. Fast Eddie says:

    Bill and Barry, I started my racing love affair at the drags. I cannot tell you how many cars my kids sat in when they were little, some complete with instructions from the driver about what happens in the car, showing them what all the knobs, buttons, and levers were. And not show cars on display for sponsors, actual race cars. They have countless autographed pictures, hats, and drag race souvenirs. They also have some of that from short track racers thanks to pit parties and scheduled autograph sessions at the track. They don’t have any of those things from any Cup races we attended. If there was a (as in ONE) driver doing autographs on a Saturday, there was a line literally a mile long or more, and no guarantee the driver would have to leave before you got there! When kids are face to face with a driver and get to talk for a minute while getting an autograph, their eyes silver dollar big and all excited, that’s when they become fans!

  24. Yes they need to go back to what made it great dareal I said I was very happy for the championship winner

  25. Just Wondering says:

    Well said Fast Eddie. IMO the lack of personal interaction is just one of the NASCAR’s upper level problem in fan retention. Even though the local tracks do their best with pit parties, autograph sessions, cars on display during race events it can’t over come the fact that the kids now days are basically addicted to video games by the age of 5. Ever since NASCAR added all the cookie cutter 1.5 mile tracks and did away with several short track events the tv races are about as exciting as watching grass grow. Not to mention all the race cars look nothing like the ones the kids see on the roads today.
    I think the ball is now in the local short tracks court. I have noticed the change in the demographics of the local tracks. There is a significantly fewer younger fans in stands. I think the tracks have priced themselves out of the teen market as high prices make it hard for your average teen to attend or take a date out to. The tracks need to do is to focus on running fun events with lots of action at a family friendly price. This means less high-dollar tour shows and more promotions to get the kids to hound their parents to take them to a track on Friday and Saturday nights.

  26. Barry, referencing Danbury Racearena. How infrequent do we here that. Club racing, 50 cars, one division originally, the SNYRA took 40% of the gate and usually full stands. Don Lajoie, Chick Stockwell. Lou Funk, Kenny Webb. Flatheads, cheap cars and endless action and accidents.
    Young people are just as involved with cars as ever. Four cylinder Honda’s, Toyota’s, WRX’s and all the rest. Engine swaps, computer tuning and more. How can young people even relate to Street Stocks that use bodies that were current before they were born and modifieds that don’t resemble anything they can relate to. But all in all, considering this, the pervasiveness of endless entertainment choices, social media distractions, thinking green and all the rest regional racing is doing pretty OK.

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