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Johnson on Truex Jr.: 'He wasn't going to be denied'
RELATED: Results " Updated standings " Post-Charlotte Chase Grid CONCORD, N.C. -- On a night where Martin Truex Jr . dominated the Coca-Cola 600 and shattered several NASCAR records in one of the Sprint Cup Series' most storied races, the rest of the field was left to tip its cap to a driver that has come oh-so-close to winning already in 2016. MORE: Truex rewrites history Truex led 392 of 400 laps (the most ever at Charlotte Motor Speedway ) and his 588 miles led (of 600) was the most led in NASCAR history. The performance was so stellar that Jimmie Johnson , who finished third, stopped mid-interview on pit road to congratulate and give Truex a high-five. "He was too damn fast not to," Johnson joked afterward. Race runner-up Kevin Harvick spent the latter part of the race trying to get to Truex but couldn't reel him in. "I saw him for about 50 miles or 75 miles," Harvick said. "The rest of the night I never saw him." Johnson led the second-most laps in the field at five and, at times, seemed to be close to making a move to get the lead. But the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion couldn't quite get there. "I thought I had him clear twice and somehow he just drove by on the straightaway," Johnson said. "His car was just really strong and there were many times where I thought I'd get close and then he'd pick the pace up a couple tenths. I think he had plenty of speed on the side and could really control the race." Johnson knows a little something about being dominant. In 2004, he led 334 laps en route to winning the Coca-Cola 600 . He has also led 300 laps two other times, both coming at Martinsville in 2008 and 2013. The fact that Truex and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota have been so close to Victory Lane this season -- he led 141 laps at Texas and 172 laps at Kansas before late-race trouble found the 78 team in both instances -- was not lost on Johnson. RELATED: Truex: When he's led 100 laps or more "They've had a few runs where they've just been the class of the field and things have just kept them from Victory Lane," Johnson said. "Tonight, he wasn't going to be denied. There was no way around that." Joey Logano started the race alongside Truex on the front row and spent some time chasing Truex from the front, as well. The Sprint All-Star Race winner summed up his pursuit succinctly. "We didn't have anything for the 78," Logano said. "Martin Truex was on fire tonight and really all weekend. They had it figured out." Like Johnson, Logano said he could stay close for a little bit, but was no match for the 78 on the long runs. "There were times that we were racing him up front for the lead on restarts," Logano said. "We'd run with him for a while and then eventually on the long run he just took off. We had nothing for him, but at times I thought we were definitely a second-place car -- but unfortunately it's a distant second." The win was a popular one in the garage with Johnson saying how well-liked Truex is by his fellow competitors. That sentiment was echoed by fifth-place finisher Brad Keselowski . "You see a guy like Martin win and you can't help but feel good about it," Keselowski said. "He's a good person and he deserves all the success he gets." MORE: Relive the day in photos
Truex jokes about Johnson's brief pass for the lead
Martin Truex Jr. jokes about letting Jimmie Johnson pass him for the lead for "being a good sport" in the Coca-Cola 600. It was the only time during the race that Martin Truex Jr. was passed under the green flag.
Custer earns top-five result in second XFINITY start
RELATED: Full results " Relive the day in photos CONCORD, N.C. -- After a career-best fourth-place finish in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 4K TV 300 , Cole Custer emerged from his No. 88 Chevrolet beet-red but satisfied with his result at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The 18-year-old earned a fist bump and congratulations from JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier , among others. "Really happy with where we ended up there," Custer said. " Good call there at the end taking two tires and catching a little more track position. We were just able to make some things happen there on that last restart. "Day didn't start out that great. We got some damage on pit road but we were able to work our way back up there and ended up pretty well." Custer spent much of the latter half of the race running in the top 10, even leading a lap (his first in the series) and spent some time in the top five before starting to fade back to seventh. A late caution from an accident involving Erik Jones on Lap 198 opened the door for some pit strategy to get back some track position. Crew chief Dave Elenz told NASCAR.com there was no doubt what call he had to make. "We were doing two," Elenz said on pit road after the race. "We were set on that. We had to get ahead of the 18 (eventual race winner Denny Hamlin , who restarted sixth on four fresh tires), so that was the only way we were going to do that. We actually were going to stay out if we could have gotten the front row, but that didn’t happen." Custer restarted in fifth on the third row with Hamlin, and the California native was able to gain one spot in the overtime finish. The result builds off a sixth-place showing Custer had last month at Richmond International Raceway in his series debut. Custer has three more starts slated to come for JRM at Kentucky Speedway in the No. 88 (July 8), before returning to the No. 5 at Charlotte (Oct. 7) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19). JR Motorsports teammate Allgaier has noticed what a quick study Custer is, and Custer admitted that he has picked the brain of veteran teammate Elliott Sadler a little bit. Allgaier said he enjoys having a rotating cast of drivers in the No. 88 Chevrolet that already has included Chase Elliott , Kevin Harvick , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Alex Bowman . "I told Cole as soon as the race was over, he did a great job today," said Allgaier, who finished fifth. "He was on it, no question, and those guys did a great job. "I think as a company, when you get into that grind of going every week and pushing each other each and every week, it can be sometimes hard to race every week and to not get stale or stagnate. Having those guys come in and push us and we learn from them, I think it definitely helps the whole organization." And with two strong results on the board in the XFINITY Series, Custer is optimistic that the results and speed will carry over to his run at a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. The two-time winner in the series is in the midst of his first full-time season in the sport and sits 15th in the standings. "We've definitely struggled some in the truck and we thought we were having more speed," Custer said. "I think we are going to have some speed here coming up. I think we are working real hard on it with Joe (Shear Jr., crew chief of the No. 00 Chevrolet) and everybody, so I think we will definitely have some speed, but it definitely means a lot to know that I can still do it."
Similarities undeniable in friends, competitors Childress, Hendrick
CONCORD, N.C. -- Richard Childress and Rick Hendrick have more in common than being long-time car owners in NASCAR. Both men have seen their teams win multiple championships. Both have fielded entries for some of NASCAR’s most talented drivers. And both are going into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame as members of the Class of 2017. Their friendship has been built on respect for each other’s accomplishments as well as years of fierce competition. Sometimes, what has taken place on the track has tested the limits of that friendship. But it remains unchanged. "We’ve had some situations where we’ve had to go up to each other and say, 'You know, we’re not driving the cars,' " Hendrick said Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway , site of the Coca-Cola 600 . Specifically, in 1988 when Dale Earnhardt, driving for Childress, and Geoff Bodine, driving for Hendrick, were embroiled in a feud that became so intense it resulted in all four being summoned to NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida, to meet with CEO Bill France. It was a rivalry that had been building for quite some time. It all came to a head here at CMS. "That was back when Dale and Geoff were wrecking each other, right here (at Charlotte), and it was costing us a lot of money," Hendrick said. It was the Coca-Cola 600 race weekend, and during the Saturday race, the Winn-Dixie 300, contact from Earnhardt sent Bodine spinning and into the wall. Afterward, Bodine made a trip to Earnhardt’s garage stall, drawing an imaginary "X" over the car. "That was his engine builder next to the car. I was just wishing him good luck for today," Bodine said during a pre-race television interview. In Sunday’s 600, contact between the pair sent Bodine’s No. 5 Chevrolet to the garage. This time, NASCAR officials penalized Earnhardt, holding the driver of the black No. 3 Chevrolet on pit road for five laps. The following week, both drivers and the two car owners were summoned to Daytona. The incident was recreated for the movie "Days of Thunder." "They made a movie about it," Hendrick recalled. "We got summoned to Daytona; Bill France brought us in a room … Dale, Geoff Bodine, Richard and myself. "I’m not going to use all the words he used but he said, 'There aren’t two monkeys that are going to mess up our show. … We can sit here and watch videos all day.' … but Richard and I had already agreed that we couldn’t control it; we tried to, but it was costing us a lot of money. "Mr. France said, 'We’re going to go have dinner.' Dale said, 'I’ve got some plans.' Mr. France said, 'There’s the phone, change your plans.' "Richard and I rode together; Dale and Bodine rode together and we never did have any more trouble." Childress, who won six premier series titles with Earnhardt at the helm of his cars, said such incidents weren’t exactly "great," but said it was a fun time in the series. "That wasn’t fun that night," Hendrick said. "That wasn’t any fun at all," replied Childress. "He (France) was serious. He definitely said 'I don’t care if one of you has to run on one side of the track and the other run on the other side, you better not do it again.' He was pretty serious. "But you look back on that … to be part of it and build the friendship we did … it was quite a trip." In addition to Childress and Hendrick, drivers Mark Martin and Benny Parsons, along with former car owner Raymond Parks, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January 2017.
Hamlin rides fresh tires to overtime XFINITY win at Charlotte
RELATED: Full Charlotte race results CONCORD, N.C. -- In an event that bore notable similarities to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race a week earlier, Denny Hamlin won Saturday's Hisense 4K TV 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a pass on the final lap. Hamlin's fresh rubber trumped the old tires of Kyle Larson and Joey Logano , who restarted ahead of Hamlin in overtime at the 1.5-mile track. In fact, Hamlin restarted sixth on Lap 205 after coming to pit road for four new tires under the eighth and final caution of the race, brought out when polesitter Erik Jones , Hamlin's teammate, slammed the outside wall and performed the coup de grace on his already wounded No. 20 Toyota. "It was a second opportunity, obviously," Hamlin said. "I was hoping for that caution there at the end, and we got it and we were able to get four tires on this Hisense Camry and took off. A little closer than what I thought -- I mean, we were just really tight those last couple laps, but what a great day." The victory was Hamlin's first of the year in his only start so far, and it was the fifth this season for the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, the first four coming with Kyle Busch behind the wheel. Logano surged ahead of Larson at the restart, but Hamlin gained huge momentum on his new tires from the outside lane. With less than a lap left, Hamlin got past Logano and held on to win the race by .291 seconds over Austin Dillon , who edged Logano for second in the final corner. Dillon had opted for right-side tires only on his final pit stop. But for a timely caution, however, Hamlin would not have had the opportunity to win the race. As they had done a week earlier in the All-Star race, Larson and Logano swapped the lead, with Logano powering past Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet on lap 166 of a scheduled 200, and Larson regaining the top spot with five laps left in regulation. But when Jones slammed into the wall on Lap 199, Hamlin had the chance to come to pit road for tires under caution, while Larson and Logano stayed out to preserve their track position. With just two cars up front on old tires, as had been the case for the final restart in the All-Star race, Hamlin made short work of the cars in front of him. It was the third last-lap pass for the win in the XFINITY Series this season. Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gayle conferred before the final pit stop and ultimately opted for the fresh rubber. "It was a collaborative call," Hamlin said. "He (Gayle) leaned towards staying out, but I thought that I could get around those guys in just two laps even though we were way faster on that last run. I thought tires were the thing. "I knew if I could start on the outside that I wanted new tires and it just worked out on pit road where I came out on the outside. It all worked out and it was very exciting in that last corner, a little more exciting than what I expected." Hamlin desperately needed the final caution because his No. 18 team had drawn a penalty for an uncontrolled tire on a pit stop under yellow on Lap 160. Hamlin restarted mid-pack instead of at the rear of the field as the violation requires, because according to NASCAR, the cars at the rear of the field failed to pass Hamlin’s No. 18 Camry before the green flag waved on Lap 164. Hamlin said he left a large buffer for the laps-down car to pass him before the restart, but that they declined to do so. By the time Jones hit the wall, Hamlin had driven to third place, trailing only Larson and Logano. The similarities to the finish of the All-Star Race were not lost on Logano. "I thought it was kind of supposed to be like what the All-Star Race was with old tires and new tires, but the (my car) was the fastest it's been all year," Logano said. "We can't hold our heads down about it. We had a car that was capable of winning if circumstances went right. I felt like I was going have a good restart next to Kyle. "I felt my restarts were a little better than his all day, and I thought, 'OK, if I can clear him,' which we did I was like, 'Alright, we've got a shot,' but it was really hard to hold off those four tires. What a fun race. It got really exciting there at the end. I got passed on the top by Denny and then Kyle just kept ripping up top and had a big run into the corner, so it was fun to watch that. I was hoping they would get into each other, and I would sneak one out."
NASCAR reacts to Truex's Coca-Cola 600 dominance
RELATED: Full race results " Post-Charlotte standings " Updated Chase Grid Being cancer free, at our home track, and having my nephew here to celebrate with us. Priceless. ❤️❤️❤️#winning pic.twitter.com/F4brUxKwsa — Sherry Pollex (@SherryPollex) May 30, 2016 Happy for my great friend @MartinTruex_Jr . Domination. It was only a matter of time for that group. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) May 30, 2016 Very happy for @MartinTruex_Jr and @SherryPollex .. Such great people that deserve great things!! — Elliott Sadler (@Elliott_Sadler) May 30, 2016 So so so happy for two of the most genuine and wonderful people I know @SherryPollex & @MartinTruex_Jr — Erin CrockerEvernham (@ErinEvernham) May 30, 2016 WHAT A STORY! SO Awesome for @SherryPollex and @MartinTruex_Jr I LOVE your hair Sherry. You look great!!! — Kenny Wallace (@Kenny_Wallace) May 30, 2016 Extremely happy for @SherryPollex good to see you. Look amazing — Todd Bodine (@Team_Onion) May 30, 2016 Awesome to see @MartinTruex_Jr @SherryPollex in victory lane. Congrats! — Ben Kennedy (@BenKennedy33) May 30, 2016 Welp, never want to lose, but couldn't think of anyone I'd rather lose too... Congrats @MartinTruex_Jr and @SherryPollex !!!! — DeLana Harvick (@DeLanaHarvick) May 30, 2016 I'd say this is the ultimate pic for #SelfieSunday ! Looking great @SherryPollex & @MartinTruex_Jr ! #CocaCola600 -JW pic.twitter.com/A1DTegXrnH — Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) May 30, 2016 Happy for you bud! Great job @MartinTruex_Jr @NASCAR pic.twitter.com/TpqODx0pPx — Michael Waltrip (@MW55) May 30, 2016 Congrats @MartinTruex_Jr , y'all showed everybody how it's done tonight. — Chase Elliott (@chaseelliott) May 30, 2016 Now that was a victory lane celebration by @MartinTruex_Jr THAT'S how you do it! Raw emotion & jubilation! That's what we all want to see — Brendan Gaughan (@Brendan62) May 30, 2016 Congrats @MartinTruex_Jr @SherryPollex ! — Jeb Burton (@JebBurtonRacing) May 30, 2016
Best in-car audio from the Good Sam 500
Check out some of the best in-car audio from the Good Sam 500 from Phoenix International Raceway.
Fantasy Fastlane: Good Sam 500
Who should you have in your lineup? fantasy-based preview for the Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway
Post-Race Reactions: Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200
James Buescher and Johnny Sauter comment on their strong runs at the Rock, while Nelson Piquet reflects on his pit road mistake.
Bruce, Cain reveal NASCAR Hall of Fame ballots
RELATED: Photos of Voting Day, inductees NASCAR.com was privileged to have two ballots cast as part of NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Day on Wednesday. Senior writers Kenny Bruce and Holly Cain each submitted their five nominations for induction in the Class of 2017 and a vote for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. A spirited discussion and voting process created one of the most intriguing classes in the stock-car shrine's history with Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons selected as Hall of Fame members. Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles received the Landmark Award. Here are Holly's and Kenny's ballots cast Wednesday with their choices for induction: Kenny Bruce Ron Hornaday Jr. No one dominated NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series like Hornaday, the only four-time series champ. He remains the leader in career wins, top-five and top-10 finishes in Truck Series history. Mark Martin. The working man's racer; Martin finished second in the premier series points battle five times and earned 40 wins in 882 career starts. His XFINITY Series record wasn't too shabby, either. Benny Parsons. Folks who knew Benny the Broadcaster might not know just how talented Parsons was behind the wheel of a race car. The 1973 premier series champion, Parsons won 21 times, including victories in the Daytona 500 (1975) and World 600 ('80). Raymond Parks. The Atlanta-based businessman not only provided much-needed financial assistance as the newly formed NASCAR governing body got up and running, but Parks was a successful car owner as well. His career as an owner peaked in 1949 when driver Red Byron won NASCAR's first Strictly Stock crown. A year earlier, Byron had won the group's first Modified title in a Parks-backed entry. Robert Yates. As an engine builder, Yates helped power Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough to 77 victories. As a car owner, his drivers won three Daytona 500 titles, 57 races and 48 poles. Landmark Award H. Clay Earles. His Martinsville Speedway was there from the beginning (actually before NASCAR was formed) and it remains a popular stop today as one of three short tracks on the premier series schedule. Keeping up with the changing landscape of the sport wasn't easy, and no one did it better than Mr. Earles. Holly Cain These are the Hall of Fame votes I considered the most worthy and timely, considering a ballot of 20 of the sport's most deserving people. I tried to decide on a well-balanced group of drivers, owners and technical people and considered time on the ballot, too. Some I did not vote for this year I feel like will be definite choices in the upcoming Hall of Fame votes. Red Byron. NASCAR's first champion should be in its Hall of Fame for historic reasons. He won NASCAR's very first race on Daytona Beach in 1948, won NASCAR's first "season" championship and then its first Strictly Stock title, which is the modern era Sprint Cup crown. Raymond Parks . He owned the first championship car driven by Red Byron and for many of the same reasons Bryon needs to be in the Hall, so does Parks. Even after the two early titles he fielded cars for greats such as Bob and Fonty Flock. He is the sport's heritage, its beginning. Benny Parsons . Many current NASCAR fans know Benny from his ease and skill behind the television microphone and camera once he retired from driving a race car, but he was an amazing competitor, too, winning NASCAR's two biggest trophies -- the 1973 Cup championship and the 1975 Daytona 500 . Perhaps most amazingly, he finished among the top 10 in 54 percent of the races he ran. Waddell Wilson. It is impressive Wilson was so successful both as an engine builder and a crew chief. He built the motors that David Pearson and Benny Parsons drove to titles and as a crew chief led Buddy Baker and Cale Yarborough (twice) to Daytona 500 wins. He built the first engine that broke 200 mph -- driven by Parsons in qualifying for the 1982 Winston 500 . Robert Yates. This is another example of the ultimate in successful multi-tasking. Similar to Wilson, he built championship-quality engines (1983 with Bobby Allison) and then Yates owned a championship team, fielding the car with which Dale Jarrett won a title in 1999. He owns three Daytona 500 wins as part of a 57-win legacy as a team owner and won 77 races as an engine builder. Landmark Award Ralph Seagraves. This was a tough category. My selection was based on his contribution really being a turning point for the entire sport. Under Seagraves' leadership, RJ Reynolds provided top-dollar, high-promotion sponsorship of the sport that lasted for more than 30 years. It thrust NASCAR into another stratosphere as far as the American sports landscape was concerned and absolutely created a foundation that is still enjoyed today.