DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. took the lead with 28 laps to go and held off Kevin Harvick on the final restart to win the Southern 500 on Sunday night.
Truex started the summer season by leading an astounding 588 of 600 miles to win at Charlotte on Memorial Day weekend. He closed the season by outracing Harvick on Labor Day weekend for his second crown jewel win of the season.
Truex pulled up to the inside wall to greet his crew, then taking off for some celebration donuts at the track “Too Tough To Tame.”
Harvick had the dominant car — he led 214 of 367 laps — but this run was cut short by slow pit stops. At one point, Harvick fell 11 spots from first to 12th after a super slow 16.6-second stop. He battled back toward the top, but could not chase down Truex.
Last week’s winner at Michigan, Kyle Larson, finished third and Denny Hamlin was fourth. Joey Logano was fifth, followed by Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott.
Truex moved past leader Newman on lap 339 to take the lead and stayed in front on a final restart to win another of what was once considered of one of NASCAR’s most-prized races.
“This is unbelieveable,” Truex said. “I’ve always loved this race track. I’ve led a lot of laps here and I feel like something always happens. I’m proud to get to victory lane with this group.”
It’s the second time in the past six Southern 500s that single-car Furniture Row Racing wound up in victory lane. Regan Smith stunned the Sprint Cup garage in 2011 with his win here.
Truex, who made last year’s championship Chase and is locked in this year, is no surprise — and may have stamped himself a significant contender for the Sprint Cup crown.
“It was definitely worth the wait,” he said.
Harvick could not overcome his shoddy pit showing and was frustrated with his team.
“We have championship cars and we’re just mediocre on pit road. It’s been that way for a few years,” he said.
Dixon wins at Watkins Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) — Scott Dixon was in a league of his own at Watkins Glen International. It’s sort of becoming old hat.
Fastest in every practice and fastest in qualifying, Dixon won the IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen with a dominant drive Sunday in his No. 9 Chevy for Chip Ganassi Racing, leading all but 10 of the 60 laps around the 11-turn, 3.37-mile natural terrain layout.
It didn’t make up for his crushing eighth-place finish at Toronto in June, a race he led for 56 laps after starting from pole and lost because of pit strategy. It still felt awfully good, nonetheless.
“I wish it would happen a lot more often. These are weekends you don’t forget,” Dixon said after his 40th victory overall moved him alone into fourth place on the career list. “You just think of problems or strategy not going your way. We got amazing fuel mileage.”
The New Zealander won for the second time this season and fourth time at The Glen to tie NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon for second place in track history behind Tony Stewart’s five. Josef Newgarden was second, followed by Helio Castroneves, Conor Daly, and Sebastien Bourdais.
Simon Pagenaud finished seventh and increased his lead over Will Power to 43 points in the standings with one race remaining in the season. Pagenaud had to back off to save fuel in the closing laps and lost two spots on track.