Truex Wins First Cup Race

Dover, Del. ? Martin Truex Jr. dominated the rain-delayed Autism Speaks 400 presented by Visa at Dover International Speedway Monday afternoon, to handily win his first Nextel Cup race. His victory came in his 58th career start.

Rain forced postponement of the race from Sunday to Monday and although it rained throughout the night, the skies cleared and although overcast early on, the sun did shine at times.

Truex?s triumph was overshadowed by the death of former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr., who passed away at home during the race. In memory of the fallen leader, the track?s flags were lowered to half staff.

In the 400-lap race, Truex started 26th and he quickly moved through the field catching the front-runners within 100 laps. Moving up to third, he passed early leader Ryan Newman for second place on lap 177 and 11 laps later, he overhauled Carl Edwards for the lead.
The New Jersey native led 216 laps and held a 7.3 second lead at the checkered flag.

?I am really happy to be the one here in victory lane,? Truex said in victory lane. ?This (win) is unbelievable, and we had an unbelievable car.

With 70 or 80 laps to go, I was sitting there hoping that nothing would go wrong. I wasn?t counting my chickens before they hatched. I have been close before and I was hoping and praying there wouldn?t be a bunch of caution flags (near the end). My car was good on green-flag runs. It was a great day.?

Teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. came to victory lane for the celebration and said to the winner, ?I told you, you could do it.?

During Saturday?s Happy Hour, Truex realized his Chevrolet was very strong. ?I got the car sticking to the bottom, and we were the only one running that fast lap after lap. The way the car was running I knew we had a chance to win it.?

Driving the Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet entered by the legendary DEI team, Truex reigned supreme once he ran down the leaders. His only setbacks came during pit stops when fast qualifier Newman would assume command because of an advantageous pit stall.

For DEI, the team won for the first time since May 2006 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove to victory at Richmond International Raceway. Overall, the team has amassed 24 victories with four drivers, including 17 by the late Dale Earnhardt.

The win broke the Car of Tomorrow victory skein enjoyed by Hendrick Motorsports.

Newman drove his Alltel Dodge to second place for his best finish on the season. He led 135 laps and was at or near the front throughout.
Edwards ran well to finish third in his Office Depot Ford. ?Congratulations to Martin Truex,? Edwards said. ?What an awesome thing to win your first race at a track as tough as Dover. I had a lot of fun here winning the Busch race, and I had a blast in this Office Depot Fusion today.?

Denny Hamlin drove his Chevrolet to fourth place ahead of Matt Kenseth in a Ford.

Sixth through tenth place finishers were Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer, point leader Jeff Gordon and Robby Gordon, who earned his best finish of the season.

With 40 laps to go, the seventh and final caution flag bunched the field. The top-five drivers did not pit, but those immediately behind them did, to include Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Hamlin, Martin and Biffle. With no additional caution flags, this group did gain a limited advantage but could not catch the first three cars.

Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson staged a late race rally to the delight of the fans, advancing to second place only to cut a tire with 20 laps to go. He finished 15th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a succession of tire and engine problems. He ended up 22nd, completing 398 laps.

In a notable on-track incident, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart tangled with Busch crashing into the wall on the 270th circuit. Stewart kept going and Busch limped back to the pits stopping his car alongside that of Stewart.

NASCAR officials intervened immediately and parked Busch for the rest of the race. Officials then summoned Busch and his crew to their trailer for a scolding. Stewart eventually returned to the track, finishing 40th and 70 laps behind the winner.

Busch said, ?Stopping beside him (Stewart) on pit road was my fault, but on the track he didn?t give me an inch. He tried to wreck us on two occasions. He did get his mission accomplished when he wrecked us. We are confused by his driving.?

In the point standings, Jeff Gordon left Dover holding a 152-point advantage over teammate Johnson. Kenseth, Hamlin and Jeff Burton continue to hold down third, fourth and fifth place. Edwards gained two positions and moved into sixth place.

Stewart dropped one notch to seventh and Bowyer gained two positions for eighth. Kevin Harvick, Kyle and Kurt Busch and Martin complete the top-12 in the standings.

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