The Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway has a winner. Martin Truex Jr. took first place in the #19 Toyota car. He nearly lost it on a turn with only a handful of laps to go, but the winner of the race’s first two stages held on to claim victory. Interestingly, no stage winner had ever claimed the win at Darlington before.
And Kyle Larson tried his best to keep it that way. He put up a valiant fight, trailing by less than a second heading into the final turns. Unfortunately for the driver of the #5 Chevrolet, Truex Jr. proved too dominant on “The Track Too Tough to Tame.”
After six cautions and a few early exits from the likes of Aric Almirola, Cole Custer, and Kurt Busch, Stage 3 of the Goodyear 400 was completely clean. Martin Truex Jr. took full advantage and, after staving off Larson’s late rally, finished the race with a 2.571 second lead.
Watch him celebrate in true NASCAR fashion below.
The win marks Truex Jr.’s NASCAR Cup Series-high third win of the season and the 30th of an impressive career. Of the race’s 293 laps, Truex Jr. led for 248 of them.
Many thought that it could have been Denny Hamlin’s day to claim his first victory of 2021. He won one of the races at the famed South Carolina track last year, but today it’s fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex’s time to shine.
Kyle Busch was also a favorite to earn his second consecutive victory at Darlington. And it was Brad Keselowski’s third time starting from pole position this year. The polesitter finished the first stage in 20th place and ended the race in 24th.
NASCAR Cup Series Implications
The unofficial top 10 finishers after Truex Jr. were as follows: Larson, Kyle Busch, Byron, Hamlin, Harvick, Elliott, Blaney, Buescher, and Newman.
Martin Truex Jr. is currently in second place behind Denny Hamlin in the NASCAR Cup Series standings. We’ll have to wait until all the results are official to tally up the exact scores. But going into the Goodyear 400, Denny Hamlin held a commanding 481 points to Truex Jr.’s 394.
Claiming his third win of the season will go a long way toward cutting into Hamlin’s lead, but Truex Jr. will still have his work cut out for him moving forward.