CONCORD, N.C. — Martin Truex, Jr. resumed where he left off last May and claimed Sunday night’s second stage at the Coca-Cola 600, taking the race across its halfway point despite a nearly two-hour delay for weather.
When the restart to begin the stage flew at lap 108, Truex took the lead and led throughout the duration of Stage 2.
“We’re trying, that’s for sure,” said Truex after the stage. “It’s definitely a lot tougher this year, the cars definitely aren’t driving quite as good, they are quite a handful all night. The guys have been on it all night and we have been making great adjustments. We are having fun out here, there’s a long way to go still and we just need to keep tuning on it and keep her up front here.”
Jimmie Johnson closed the gap multiple times over the course of the stage, but had to settle for second in the stage, while he was trailed by the two Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camrys of Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch.
Kyle’s brother Kurt was fifth when the stage concluded.
Jamie McMurray was sixth and one of two Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates cars in the top 10 (Kyle Larson, the other, finished the stage in ninth).
Austin Dillon was seventh, followed by two more Toyotas of Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin, who were eighth and tenth at the halfway point, respectively.
The first caution in the stage flew when Matt DiBenedetto cut a tire and smacked the outside wall in Turn 2 at lap 142, just moments before NASCAR called cars to pit road due to lightning in the area.
Truex was the leader at that point, moments before heavy rain drenched the speedway and stopped the proceedings for one hour, 39 minutes and 56 seconds.
After the rain, the stage restarted on lap 154 and went green until lap 175, when Danica Patrick’s No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion hit the outside retaining wall and cut a tire.
On the ensuing round of pit stops under the yellow flag, Ryan Blaney broke his left rear axle while exiting pit road. He was fifth at the time and fell to four laps down and the 34th position at stage’s end.
Paul Menard stayed out for the final restart of the stage on lap 180, but Truex made quick work of him and led to the end of the stage.
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
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