Truex Jr.: 'I don't think it's too early to start thinking about it' DOVER, Del. -- When a single-car team has a driver that has already earned three top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 12 races and is currently sitting second in the driver standings behind last season's Sprint Cup Series champion, discussions about expanding to a two-car garage begin to stir. "I don't think it's too early to start thinking about it," Martin Truex Jr . told the media on Friday at Dover International Speedway . "I think that Barney (Visser, team owner) and Joe (Garone, general manager) have been thinking about it for a while. It's just a matter of when is the time right. "If the situation and everything works out the way they want it to, the way they want it to look I think it would be a good thing. I really like what we have right now. It's working well and it's hard to think about changing something. I think it would be a good thing for the team, and certainly they have the capabilities of making it work, I believe." But with the Furniture Row Racing driver's success this season, it seems as if the only missing piece of the puzzle is a win. Now with the New Jersey-native being back at his home track and the location of his first Sprint Cup Series win, perhaps a victory is in the cards. This weekend's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks (May 31, 1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) will be the third-straight points race with the same No. 78 Chevrolet that he earned ninth- and fifth-place finishes with at Kansas and Charlotte, respectively. "I feel like last year we were off quite a bit," Truex said of his 2014 Dover finishes (sixth and seventh place). "We came here and we still ran in the top-10 both races, really had a good run here for us last year. I kind of was looking back at that and thinking about that thinking 'OK imagine what we can do there now.' We will just have to see." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Joe Gibbs Racing driver edges Truex in Monster Mile qualifying RELATED: Full qualifying results Denny Hamlin rolled to the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday afternoon's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Dover International Speedway . Hamlin drove the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a fast lap of 160.121 mph on the 1-mile concrete oval. He'll start first in Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). The pole position was Hamlin's first of the season, third at the Monster Mile and 21st of his Sprint Cup career. The pole-winning lap was significantly slower than the track qualifying record of 164.444 mph set by Brad Keselowski in May. "It's great," said Hamlin, who also won the Dover pole in September 2012 and May 2013. "Obviously our car's shown speed all day long, which is something that we haven't had lately, so we're kind of building and getting a little bit better and starting to figure out our setups and whatnot. So we're getting better and obviously this kind of shows it." Martin Truex Jr ., second in the Sprint Cup standings, will share Sunday's front row in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet after notching the second-fastest lap at 159.723 mph. Kyle Larson , Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano completed the top five. Defending Sprint Cup champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick qualified sixth-fastest in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Kyle Busch , making just his second start of the season in points-paying races since returning from serious leg injuries in a February crash at Daytona, earned the 10th starting spot in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Some big names were left out of later qualifying rounds at the two elimination stages in the three-round format. Jimmie Johnson , a nine-time Dover winner in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet, was among them. After leading opening Sprint Cup practice earlier in the day, he posted just the 14th-fastest lap in Round 2, failing to make the final cut to determine the top 12 starters. "I think, in a sense, we maybe didn't make the changes we need to or thought we needed to change, because the car had so much speed in that first practice session, but it's a totally different race track," Johnson said. "And we tried to plan ahead and made some small changes, but it wasn't enough." Kurt Busch was also in that unfortunate group, making just the 13th-best lap to miss the cut for the final, five-minute round. Keselowski was the final driver to make the cut after Round 1, edging Kasey Kahne by .005 seconds for the 24th spot. The Team Penske driver ended up qualifying 19th. Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart also just missed the cut, posting the 26th-fastest lap. Jeff Green and Travis Kvapil failed to qualify for the 43-car field. Sprint Cup drivers will have their final chance to tune up for Sunday's 400-miler in a pair of practice sessions Saturday (10-10:55 a.m. ET and 1-1:55 p.m. ET, FS1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Sherry Pollex's cancer fight adds perspective, purpose behind charity RELATED: Catwalk for a Cause raises money for cancer research Martin Truex Jr . rolls into his "home track" Dover International Speedway this week the most dominant driver without a win this season. For the last two points races, the New Jersey native's No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy has led the most laps. He and reigning Sprint Cup Series champ Kevin Harvick have earned the most top-10 finishes (11) of any driver in the series. And, Truex sports a whopping 25-point lead on the next closest points position to qualify for the 16-driver Chase for theCup. Truex' 2014 struggles on track -- consistent bad luck and frequent car problems in his first year with the Furniture Row team -- now seem firmly in the rear-view mirror. And away from the track, Truex's girlfriend Sherry Pollex is responding well in treatment for ovarian cancer -- diagnosed last summer. By all reasonable standards, Truex is already a winner this year. He just hasn't hoisted a trophy. Yet. Perspective has come from facing great hardship and it has been evident even in disappointment for Truex. After leading a race-best 131 laps in Sunday night's grueling Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , he was interviewed on pit road and initially grimaced at yet another near-miss -- a fifth place finish. But before the camera pulled away, Truex had summoned a smile and offered perspective. MORE: #TBT: Truex earns first career Cup win After all that he and Pollex have endured in the past year, good days behind the wheel are a bonus. And Truex is collecting lots of bonus right now. "Toward the end of last year things were looking bad and the car wasn't running well and I was in front-line treatment (for cancer),'' Pollex said. "Now his team is on fire and they have the car to beat every weekend. I'm still in my maintenance chemo, but I live a normal life with it. "Even if Martin wasn't doing well on track, we're kinda winning at life. There are so many things we are thankful for." And as they have for years, Truex and Pollex have generously given back on their blessings through the Martin Truex Jr . Foundation. The foundation's marquee event, Catwalk for a Cause -- a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research and treatment at the Charlotte-based Levine Children’s Hospital -- was held May 13 and raised nearly $300,000. The awareness generated and hearts warmed were priceless. A couple dozen of the sport's biggest names showed up to bid on silent auction items and cheer the participants on as they walked the runway wearing fashions from local boutiques and Belk's. The Mooresville, N.C., facility's décor was created by former NASCAR driver Shawna Robinson, who recently completed treatment for breast cancer herself. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kasey Kahne , Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick were among those who walked the runway with young cancer patients. "Sherry (Pollex) does so much and these kids have such great spirit and they don't know any different,'' said Danica Patrick , who dazzled on stage alongside fellow NASCAR driver and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and 6-year old, Mya, who is undergoing chemotherapy for a form of leukemia. "It shows how you can be in those situations if you don't think too far forward, and live in the moment." It's a lesson Pollex has had reinforced. Her commitment to the spring event never wavered even in the immediate days after being diagnosed with cancer herself. "God works in mysterious ways,'' Truex said. "When Sherry first got diagnosed she thought about all the kids she had in the Catwalk before and the kids to come and said, 'If they can do this, I can do this.' ' "That was honestly the first thing she thought, 'I'm going to show them I can do it, then they will do it.' And it's a constant snowball effect." Pollex is philosophical about the irony of the situation. For years she has dedicated herself to helping this cause through the foundation's resources. "I remember not long after I was diagnosed, telling my mom that God must have had a plan for me because I've spent half my life teaching kids how to beat this disease then I ended up with it,'' Pollex said. "I definitely think it's ironic. Maybe God knew I would have to teach them how to fight and then one day I'd know what they went through. I can't imagine there being any other plan for me. "If you try to just look at the positive side of it, it's an opportunity to know what they've been through and what the treatments are like. "Nobody really knows what cancer is like unless you have it. You have an empathy that no one can explain unless you're a survivor. It gives me an opportunity to teach them to beat the disease." Because it is considered a "rare" form of cancer, pediatric cancer receives only a small fraction of the funding for research and new treatment that adult forms of cancer receive, according to Dr. Javier Oesterheld, interim director of Levine's Pediatric Hematology and Oncology unit. The money raised by Truex and Pollex is extremely important. "I will tell you, NASCAR as a whole is incredible about this,'' Oesterheld said. "This event is so amazing, how much it raises and just the awareness it puts out there. "All we need (for our cause) is our one person to really push it forward. People like Martin and Jeff Gordon . They've really made a huge difference for us." Beyond the practical side of raising money, the Catwalk has a special and undeniable tangible effect. The very people benefitting get to be a part of the process. And by the end of the evening, it was genuinely hard to see who was helping whom. The kids were grinning and laughing and hamming it up despite their tough circumstances. And the adults were smiling back at them, inspired by their strength and spirit, awed by the lesson of living in the moment. It's impossible not to leave Catwalk without being moved. "Imagine the feeling these kids get when they're up here helping their peers,'' Truex said. "They have friends back in the hospital that were too sick to come here tonight. Imagine what they feel in their heart when they're up here and everyone's cheering for them and they say, 'This is for our friends back in the hospital and for kids that haven't been diagnosed yet.' "These kids raise the money. We don't. "At the end of the day, we're both blessed to be healthy enough to do it, especially Sherry with what she's been through. This year was extra special to her for that reason." Pollex agreed. "We were so humbled all those people were there, and I feel like this year was different because of my diagnosis,'' she said. "We've always wanted to help people. And now that we can't have kids of our own it takes on a new importance in our lives. Those kids become our kids. " With the way Truex has been contending, it won't be long until the couple gets to celebrate their perseverance and resolve in Victory Lane. He's a legitimate favorite this weekend. Truex scored his career first Cup win at Dover's Monster Mile in 2007 and has an impressive two pole positions and eight top-10s in 18 starts at the notoriously tough concrete oval. "I would never want our lives necessarily to turn out this way, but Martin is a completely different person (since I was diagnosed with cancer) and looks at everything differently, not just racing ,'' Pollex said. "I don't know how anyone could be the same person after going through this. "I look at it like we got an opportunity to show God what we're made of." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Martin Truex Jr. talks about the possibility of adding a second team at Furniture Row Racing and how he believes they are capable of making it work.
Complete news and notes about all 43 drivers and their Coca-Cola 600 results RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid after Charlotte 1. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Sticky feet didn't slow down Edwards, who stretched his fuel window to claim his first Charlotte 600 victory while pretty much locking up a spot in the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . " NASCAR.com goes 1-on-1 with Edwards in Victory Lane 2. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle turned in his best showing of the year, starting fourth and earning runner-up honors in the season's longest race. " Biffle reflects on runner-up finish 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . The Kannapolis, North Carolina, native overcame an early-race pit miscue to resume running in the top 10 by Lap 100 and earn his seventh top-five of the year. He now ranks fourth in the points. " Dale Jr. looks at top-five finish at Charlotte 4. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The pole winner closed 12 spots in the final 40 laps after making an unscheduled pit stop with less than 100 laps to go for a loose wheel. " Kenseth talks about late gamble 5. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Before a late-race fuel gamble didn't work out, Truex led a race-high 131 laps and radioed to his team, "I'm feeling like Superman for a few laps anyway." " Truex: 'It hurts to come home fifth' 6. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman earned the beneficiary of the free pass during the final caution period and closed 11 places in the final 40 laps. 7. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . New father Keselowski told his team early that his "ride quality is on par with Kentucky." He won at Kentucky last year, but had to settle for a top 10 (his eighth of the season) due to the fuel mileage game. " To hear more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView Premium today 8. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin, winner of the recent Sprint All-Star race, was pacing the 600 field with a migraine when a loose wheel prompted an unscheduled pit stop with 38 laps to go. " Hamlin visits media center after trip to infield care center 9. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick recorded his 11th top-10 result in 12 appearances this season to extend his grip on the points lead 10. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch lined up 14th and posted the fastest lap of the race on Lap 143 (188.153 mph), which was one of the 118 laps he led on Sunday. 11. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . In his first points race since the Daytona crash, Busch reassured his team he could run the full 600 miles. "Tell Erik (Jones, replacement driver) I feel good," Busch radioed his team. "10-4," crew chief Adam Stevens responded. "His bedtime's in about 20 minutes anyhow." " Busch passes big test at Charlotte 12. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne was tagged near the halfway point for speeding on pit road, but rallied to earn the beneficiary of the free pass and run inside the top 10 with 50 laps to go. 13. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . The birthday boy shook off debris in the first 24 laps to lead twice for 17 circuits on Sunday. 14. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard quietly toured Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval en route to his eighth top-15 result of the season. 15. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . After pacing the field to green in the Indy 500, Gordon lined up 18th in his Coca-Cola 600 finale and had a decent run until a loose wheel impacted his day. " Gordon leads Indy field to green 16. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon drove a new chassis to his best 1.5-mile result of the season. 17. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola earned the beneficiary of the free pass on the Lap 230 caution and found himself in position again for the free pass in the closing laps. 18. Chase Elliott , No. 25 Chevrolet. Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott, in his third Cup outing and first at a 1.5-miler, qualified 28th and mostly ran inside the top 25, despite dealing with a radio communication issue during the race. 19. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. The two-time Charlotte winner had a ho hum day, running middle of the pack in his 26th appearance at the 1.5-mile track. 20. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer's frustration sparked a late-race decision to gamble on fuel mileage. "Might as well (gamble)," Bowyer radioed crew chief Brian Pattie. "Nothing to lose." " To hear more in-car audio, sign up for RaceView Premium today 21. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart was running a lap down when he got into the back of Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., who slid up the track ahead of him on Lap 302. 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick had to make two pit stops during the third caution flag after receiving damage from a dust-up with Clint Bowyer and Chase Elliott on pit road. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears battled a lack of air conditioning and tried to stay cool during the season's longest race by taking ice bags during pit stops. 24. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish couldn't climb back from an early handling issue although he later ran lap times comparable to those inside the top 15. 25. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson qualified ninth, marking his first top-10 start at Charlotte, and ran as high as eighth before quietly fading. 26. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Encouraged early by crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr. not to overdrive it, Bowman went on to post his best intermediate track finish of the year. 27. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne's tough night was further impacted when he hit the wall on Lap 230 to bring out the fourth caution flag and halt 89 laps of green-flag racing . 28. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt liked his car during practice and ultimately turned in his best 2015 result on a 1.5-mile track. 29. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger required an unscheduled pit stop around Lap 160 when a hot dog wrapper stuck to his grille and raised temps. 30. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . McDowell spent the night looking for speed as he worked with his team on the handling of the No. 95 Ford. 31. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Spotter Tony Raines told Moffitt his car was faster than those ahead of him, but grip was a persistent problem. 32. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett, who dealt with a tight-handling condition early on Sunday, spun on the backstretch on Lap 328 to bring out the caution flag. 33. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Gilliland, who honored The Unknown Soldier with his car, led Lap 28 after choosing not to pit during the competition caution. 34. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto, making his third 1.5-mile start and his first at Charlotte, complained early of a loose-handling condition. 35. Josh Wise , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing . Wise lined up 38th and got behind early, but still held on to post his best Charlotte result in his last four outings at the 1.5-mile track. 36. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Making his Charlotte debut, Kennedy improved upon his earlier intermediate result this season at Texas Motor Speedway . 37. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse cracked the top 10 with 70 laps to go, but watched his second top-10 of the season slip through his fingers after he hit the wall eight laps later 38. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley was mired in traffic after being penalized during the competition caution when a crew member went over the wall too early. 3 9. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill followed the race on Sunday by physically running 14 miles to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in support of the Folds of Honor Foundation. " Cassill completes unique Memorial Day weekend double 40. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson spun on Lap 90 and saved his car in a move reminiscent of Kansas Speedway , where he was victorious. But he wasn't able to save it a second time after he spun on Lap 274 and collided with the inside pit wall. " Second spin crunches Johnson's No. 48 41. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . In the final third of the race, Ragan cited his water temperatures were fluctuating and ultimately was sidelined by an engine issue. 42. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney cracked the top 11 on Sunday, but his strong run was halted on Lap 282 when his engine blew up. 43. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier, in his third Charlotte start, retreated to the garage after getting into the wall between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 136. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Led race-high 131 laps but finishes fifth due to fuel mileage gambles of others RELATED: Full race results " Latest Chase Grid standings CONCORD, N.C. – Same song, different verse. For the second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race, Martin Truex Jr . led the most laps. And for the second consecutive points race, leading the most laps didn't result in a trip to Victory Lane. "It's a double-edged sword," the Furniture Row Racing driver said after finishing fifth in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "It feels great to run that good again and I feel like we're going to get one but I also know how hard it is to be in that position, how hard it is to get race cars like this to put yourself in position to win. It's so competitive out here. "There's no telling how long it's going to be again, it might be next week, it might be a year from now. I don't know. It's frustrating, but it's also awesome. It hurts, but it's awesome." Two weeks ago in Kansas, Truex led 95 laps before a late stop for fuel only – hold the tires – proved to be the No. 78 team's undoing. At Charlotte in the series' longest race, the Mayetta, New Jersey native paced the field for 131 of 400 laps, giving up the lead on Lap 379 when he ducked onto pit road for a final stop. Others, including Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle , had stopped during the night's eight and final caution, at Lap 338, and chose to conserve fuel and hope for the best. Edwards won; Biffle finished second. "As far as I knew, all I had to do was catch and pass the 11 (of Denny Hamlin )," Truex said. "I didn't even know anyone could make it (without stopping). I didn't know there was anything else going on other than racing the 11. … "Once I caught him they told me there's some guys that might make it on gas. There's nothing you can do as a driver but go as hard as you can go and that's what I did." Knowing others were saving fuel and wouldn't be stopping wouldn't have mattered. "It would have just pissed me off even earlier," he said. Crew chief Cole Pearn could only shrug his shoulders afterward. "You can only run that harebrained strategy when you're back there … that's what’s so silly about it," he said of the outcome. "What do you do? A lot of times the fastest car doesn't get it done. Really for us to try and pull the strategy the 19 (of Edwards) pulled would be kind of insane … it's the way it works out. "When you're running hard you're obviously getting worse mileage because you're in the gas more. When you're running around 15th … I don't know, maybe we need to give that a try." That's not likely. If anything, the result only made Pearn that much more intent on continuing to put his driver out front. Monday might be a holiday, but Pearn said he was "ready to go to work at 6 a.m. … Work all day and kick their ass next week." Truex finished 29th at Bristol, the only time in 12 starts this season he's finished outside of the top 10. A two-time winner in the Sprint Cup Series, it's been a resurrection of sorts for the 34-year-old this season. While he may feel a bit snake-bitten, he's too busy looking at the positives to let another missed opportunity drag him or his team down. Cursed? "A little bit," he said. "But at the same time blessed to be doing what I'm doing. To have an opportunity to run up front like this, I know what it's like to be on the other side of that and I don't take that for granted. "I've got a lot to be thankful for and we're going to get us a win soon; we're going to dig hard and keep pushing forward and we'll get one." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver suffered from a migraine and nausea during Coca-Cola 600 CONCORD, N.C. -- Denny Hamlin made a brief appearance in the media center long after the conclusion of Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Eighth-place finishers don’t normally do that. Neither do drivers who go straight from pit road to the infield medical center. Hamlin dropped by only long enough to offer congratulations to race-winner Carl Edwards , crew chief Darian Grubb (his former pit caller) and team owner Joe Gibbs. He was, however, on his feet, and that was a bonus considering his physical state when he first climbed from his car. Suffering from a migraine headache, Hamlin sat down next to his car on pit road with head in his hands. He eventually got up and took a few uncertain steps before team personnel stepped in to assist. He was transported to the infield care center moments later. “My off day was 36 holes of golf and a full tennis match,” Hamlin said afterward. “Probably overdid it a little bit this weekend. I think the dehydration led to a migraine and I just felt nauseous the last 100 laps or so. Thank goodness that didn’t cost us the win. “Just the bad end of that strategy … but still proud of our team for really giving me a car that could contend for a win." Although he led twice for 53 laps in Sunday’s 400-lap race, and was out front with less than 40 laps remaining, a vibration sent the No. 11 Toyota to pit road under green. From there, separate pit-stop strategies kept the 34-year-old playing catch-up. Prior to the stop, he and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) appeared to have the cars to beat. “That part of it stunk a little bit, but the 78 (Truex) came back and passed us anyway. When he came back out, he had fresher air … I came out kind of middle of the pack and just couldn’t run the lap times I needed to.” This year’s winner at Martinsville, Hamlin said he felt better after the trip to the care center. “You just try to power through it and of course when you run well, you always feel a little bit better,” he said, “but when the race is over and everything comes to a stop, you realize how bad you feel.” FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Victory is first for Edwards with Joe Gibbs Racing SHOP: Edwards gear " RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings CONCORD, N.C. – Will the mystery winner of Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 enter and sign in please? Hint: It's the guy who does back flips every time he takes the checkered flag. But for the first 370 of 400 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway , no one would have picked Carl Edwards or his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota as the likely winner of the season's 12th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Martin Truex Jr ., Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin had spent the lion's share of time at the head of the field, but none of that mattered when Edwards got 62 laps out of his last tank of fuel and took the checkered flag 4.785 seconds ahead of Greg Biffle , who also was on a fuel-saving strategy. In fact, the top four finishers all stretched their gas mileage after pit stops under caution on Lap 337. Dale Earnhardt Jr . ran third, followed by polesitter Matt Kenseth and Truex, who led a race-high 131 laps. Ryan Newman , Brad Keselowski , Hamlin (53 laps led), Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch (118 laps led) completed the top 10. Kyle Busch came home 11th in his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race of the season, after missing the first 11 races of the season because of injuries sustained Feb. 21 at Daytona. The victory was Edwards first of the season, his first for Joe Gibbs Racing , his first at Charlotte and the 24th of his career. "It's so cool to get this win—we've had such bad luck," said Edwards, who joined Joe Gibbs Racing as the organization's fourth Sprint Cup driver after the 2014 season. "And we were the slowest of the (JGR cars) tonight, but we had (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) on the box. He made the right call, he put us in a position to win, and it worked. ... "This is truly a gift. I took advantage of it to win, and we'll get better." In all likelihood, the victory will propel Edwards into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . It was also Toyota’s 300th national series victory in the manufacturer's 300th Sprint Cup start. But after the very early stages of the race, Edwards wasn't a factor until fuel strategy came into play in the closing laps. Soon after Jimmie Johnson spun off Turn 4 on Lap 90 to cause the second caution of the afternoon, the race evolved into a two-car contest between the Chevrolets of Kurt Busch and Truex. Within two laps of a restart on Lap 95, Busch drove from ninth to the lead, passing Joey Logano for the top spot on Lap 97. From that point, Busch and Truex swapped stints at the head of the field, and by the time Johnson spun off Turn 4 and smacked the inside wall on Lap 273 to bring out the caution flag for the fifth time, Busch had racked up 118 laps led and Truex 59. But another quick yellow flag on Lap 282 for Ryan Blaney 's blown engine created the opportunity for divergent strategies and scrambled the running order. Truex was one of nine drivers who stayed out under the caution, but both Harvick and Kurt Busch came to pit road for fresh rubber and restarted 10th and 11th, respectively, on Lap 292. Gradually, methodically, Harvick and Kurt Busch drove back toward the front, but the contrarian strategies introduced another major player into the mix. Denny Hamlin surged to the front of the field and led 53 laps before pitting with a loose wheel on Lap 363 and giving up the lead. That put Truex back in front, with Harvick chasing, and both drivers needing one more pit stop to get to the end of the race. Edwards, Biffle, Earnhardt and Kenseth, on the other hand, stopped with 62 laps left, and the decision to come to pit road and gamble on fuel proved decisive—and stole a victory from Truex's dominant car. Biffle put pressure on Edwards in the closing laps, until he momentarily lost fuel pressure with two circuits left. "Running where we were running, it gave us the opportunity to try and stretch the fuel window and make it," Biffle said. "I was putting a lot of pressure on Carl there. I started going with about 10 laps to go. The crew chief (Matt Puccia) told me 'Save all you can, just stay in front of the 88 (Earnhardt),' and I made a decision that I was going to try and beat Carl. I got pretty close to him there, and then with two to go, the fuel light came on that the fuel pressure was low, and so I came around and had to start pushing the clutch in and shutting it off and coasting and try and preserve what fuel I had to make it back. "So excited to see the checkered flag. I wasn't sure I was going to stretch two laps of gas out of it. But it was probably on the straightaway it sucked some air and started flashing the fuel pressure. I was able to run it around the corners and didn't have any more issues, but stayed in front of the 88, finished second, big boost for the team, but probably a bigger boost for the team was how we ran tonight on the race track.” If Biffle had mixed feelings about finishing second, Truex was disconsolate. "Hell, I didn't even know guys could make it on gas," Truex said. I didn't know what was going on. Just can't catch a break there. I'm proud of the guys for an awesome race car. All my guys in Denver (where Furniture Row Racing is based) are putting a great car together. I don't know what to do about that. "We had a great car. Had a chance at it and it stinks to come up short like that on fuel mileage. I've never once in my whole career gained positions on a fuel mileage deal. I don't know what I have to do to catch a break on them deals. It is what it is. Just proud of my guys for what they brought--we will get one." Note: Late in the race, Hamlin reported feeling ill in his car and complained of a severe headache. He was taken to the infield care center after the race, and team owner Joe Gibbs said his driver was dehydrated, was given an IV and was feeling better after the treatment. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
The history of Furniture Row Racing and full crew for Martin Truex Jr.
Furniture Row Racing looks to benefit from West Coast trifecta Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live This year's shift within the early part of NASCAR calendar, including the advent of a three-race West Coast swing, will save some teams the extra effort of crisscrossing the nation. For one organization in particular, the benefit is even greater. Furniture Row Racing , the only full-time Sprint Cup Series team based west of the Mississippi River, aims to take every advantage from the schedule change that it can. The Denver, Colorado operation -- located more than 1,500 miles from the industry's Charlotte, North Carolina hub -- enters its 10th year in NASCAR and its second season with driver Martin Truex Jr., bent on improving its 24th-place rank in the final 2014 standings. With a 36-race slate spread around the United States, travel is a necessary price to pay. Now, however, the schedule follows a more logical progression, scrapping the former Daytona-Phoenix-Las Vegas-Bristol-California turn for a cleaner Daytona-Atlanta-Las Vegas-Phoenix-California quintet that runs three events in Western states on consecutive weekends. "It's definitely a good change, I think, having all three West Coast races back to back," Truex said. "That Phoenix, California, Bristol … whatever it was, it was a nightmare for everyone traveling. Logistics, haulers back and forth across the country, switching out cars -- it was definitely a good change, I think. For us to be out there for a week, have some fun, do some things and cut down on travel costs, it's a good thing for everyone." Furniture Row general manager Joe Garone, a former director of NASCAR's Research & Development Center, said the team will continue to rely on the symbiotic relationship with the company that car owner Barney Visser founded in the Rockies in 1972. Garone said a furniture truck travels each week to North Carolina for deliveries, but that its other purpose is to exchange racing parts to bring back to Colorado. Garone said the schedule alteration should help the team early on, but that the calendar always seems to balance itself out. "Obviously, any time we're racing out West, it's a better situation," Garone said. "It's harder on the East Coast guys and easier for us, but we get payback when we go back East." For Truex, the truer test of the opening five- or six-race sequence has less to do with logistics and more to do with performance, especially for a single-car team that went from qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs in 2013 to leading just one lap all of last season. Once Furniture Row makes the turn from winter to spring, Truex says the No. 78 Chevrolet team will have an indication of how well he has meshed with new crew chief Cole Pearn and whether the organization is ahead of the game concerning the new 2015 rules package. Truex hopes the results from that litmus test turn out to be bellwethers worth waiting for. "The first five races or so -- you have Daytona, a speedway track, a couple downforce races and a short track -- you pretty much know where you stand five or six races in," Truex said. "Everybody will have a good idea of where they're at and what they need to be working on. It's always a fun part of the year when guys are developing new things, and you're always optimistic that your team is one of the ones that's going to get on the new stuff quick before everybody else and have an advantage for a while. "Looking forward to it. I think that we've got a great group of guys put together, and again, with what we've built on last year and the new rules really fitting into our wheelhouse a little bit better, I think there's a great opportunity for some success for us early in the season, and I hope we can take advantage of that." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule