CONCORD, N.C. – After hitting the wall during the first quarter of Sunday’s 60th annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. rallied back to win the third stage of NASCAR’s longest race.
Truex had a back-and-forth battle with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch just past the midpoint of the 100-lap segment, but took the lead at lap 260 and paced the final 41 laps for his second stage win of the season.
The Mayetta, N.J., veteran and 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion is seeking his second Coca-Cola 600 victory in the last four years.
“It’s kind of amazing, really,” said Truex of his stage win. “I don’t know what this thing looks like, but it was pretty bad after (hitting the wall), so I wasn’t sure what we’d have. I feel like we have a pretty good car now, though, so I guess that’s why you never give up on it. We’ve worked hard, the guys have done a good job and now we’re in position to make something happen.
“We’ll see where this last 100 laps goes, but it’s a special night and hopefully we can get a special win.”
After caution-laden stages to kick off the night, the only yellow flag of stage three waved at lap 251, when Truex tagged Bayley Currey around and sent the No. 52 Chevrolet into the inside wall off turn two.
Truex received no damage, however, and continued on to take the lead shortly thereafter.
Busch finished second at the stage break, 4.239 seconds back, followed by Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Kurt Busch.
Alex Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin completed the points-scoring drivers in the top 10 at the third and final stage break of the night.
Brad Keselowski, who topped the first two stages, found himself mired in traffic after pit stops and ended up a distant 14th with 100 laps still to run.