Martin Truex Jr. (19) went back to 2017 in dominating fashion by sweeping the stages to win at Darlington. The 40-year old threw back to his Furniture Row championship car with his matte black number 19 Camry. Like his car, Truex also showed his champion-level driving, winning all three stages while holding off a looming Kyle Larson (5). Truex is the only driver to have multiple wins (three) this season and now leads the standings heading into Dover. This is the Darlington recap.
Brad Keselowski (2) and Kevin Harvick (4) led the pack to green. The first few laps held some great side-by-side racing but on lap seven Aric Almirola (10) got bumped by Ricky Stenhouse (47) coming out of turn two. After sliding down and hitting the inside wall on the backstretch head-on, his day was done. He did climb out of the car which was good to see after such a big hit.
After a few laps, Kyle Busch (18) spun going into turn three but managed to get away with only minor damage. After a pit stop for tires, he was ready to go again. On the restart, Truex gained the lead and drove away from the field. Although Denny Hamlin (11) seemed to be slightly faster than him and was gaining each lap, Truex took the first stage.
A HUGE hit for Cole Custer at Darlington. pic.twitter.com/SSTRlL7RfK— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) May 9, 2021
Nine laps into the second stage, another Stewart-Haas Racing member met the same inside wall. Cole Custer (41) was bumped by Anthony Alfredo (38) who was very loose coming out of turn two. It’s very rare to see two wrecks so similar in the race, let alone by the same team. Luckily, Custer too was not injured. But SHR might want to start looking into putting more padding in their chassis, just saying.
Later on, in stage two, Kurt Busch (1) got ran into by Bubba Wallace (23) coming out of turn four. He slid into the inside wall on the front stretch and before he could limp his Camaro back to the pits, it caught on fire and his day ended. During the caution, Wallace would’ve been the free pass but because he was involved in the wreck, NASCAR overturned it. Truex ended up winning the second stage.
The final stage boiled down to two drivers for the win, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson. Truex had the speed all day, especially on restarts, but Larson was quickly gaining on him heading into the closing laps. Once the leaders starting getting through lapped traffic, Larson really started to cut the distance. Even going for some ballsy moves like making it three-wide in turns one and two between Tyler Reddick (8) and Ryan Newman (6). Which is something you just don’t do at Darlington, especially when Newman is the guy you’re passing. Unfortunately for Larson, the gap between him and Truex was too big to make a race-winning pass.
Truex Sweeps Darlington
Let me start by saying this. When Martin Truex Jr. is good at a track, he is damn near unstoppable. He swept all three stages even though he had a couple of rough pit stops. His restarts were as close to perfect as you can be. Honestly, after the race, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he didn’t pass inspection, but he did.
We are 12 races into the 2021 season and he is the only driver to have multiple wins. Now last year showed us that winning a lot in the regular season doesn’t really mean anything once the playoffs roll around. But we haven’t seen him this dominant since his 2017 championship. I know it is way too early to make the final four predictions but I really wouldn’t be surprised if Truex is only heating up. Then again, anything can happen.