Truex's late gamble pays off with win in dominating race
Martin Truex Jr. dominated at Kentucky Speedway, but he needed a huge gamble in overtime to win the Quaker State 400 on Saturday.
Truex led 152 of the 274 laps and won the first two stages of the race.
He was so far out in front of the field much of the night that it was clear it would take a fluke for someone else to win the event.
That fluke almost happened.
Just as Truex was set to take the white flag, a caution came out for Kurt Busch's mechanical problem.
That set up overtime, and the strategy played out like this: crew chief Cole Pearn rolled the dice and left Truex and the Furniture Row Racing Toyota out on the track, while all the other leaders pitted for fresher, cooler - and faster - tyres.
Even though Truex's car had been a beast throughout the race, many thought he would be a sitting duck on the restart.
"I thought we were dead," Truex told NBCSN afterward. "I thought we were done. It's just completely unbelievable."
But the gamble worked.
Truex quickly pulled away on the restart and held on for his 10th career NASCAR Cup victory and his third this season.
The race finished under caution because of a multi-car crash behind the lead pack.
"I can't say enough about him," Truex said about Pearn.
Kyle Larson finished second, capping a remarkable night that saw him start at the rear of the field, race his way to third, then get sent to the back of the pack because of a speeding penalty on pit road.
Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.