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Martin Truex Jr. Breaks Winless Streak at the Monster Mile

Last week I noted that Martin Truex, Jr. had three wins at Dover but hasn’t been all that great there as of late. He certainly turned that around leading 68 laps and holding off Ross Chastain after a late race restart. After being rained out on Sunday, the Cup teams returned on Monday to a green track that rubbered up nicely as the race progressed. This race was not a case of tires not dropping off as The Monster Mile started eating tires.

Three drivers dominated the race. MTJ led 68 as noted, Ross Chastain led 98 while claiming Stage 2 and William Byron led 193 and won Stage 1. Kyle Busch started on the pole and led 25 laps but a speeding penalty mired him in the field and he got caught up in a wreck that ended any hopes he had at recovering.

Chastain did little to affirm his place amongst the top drivers of the sport by driving through Brennan Poole in Stage 1, sending him spinning up the track and into the path of Kyle Larson, one of the early race favorites to contend. While Chastain said he didn’t mean that to happen, the incident added to the perception of him as an aggressive, careless driver. When asked about the contact, Poole said that it fit with what he had heard about Chastain and suggested that perhaps someone needs to whup his butt.

Chastain found he had few friends late in the race as he was chasing MTJ through lapped traffic. While cars moved out of the racing groove for Truex, a few drivers didn’t make it so easy for Chastain to get around them which very well could have decided the win.

Things of note: The rest of the field

Ryan Blaney ran a good race finishing third but led no laps.

William Byron had a stout car but once you got behind the leader you had aero issues.

Toyota showed up this week big time by placing four drivers in the Top 10 and all six in the Top 13.

I thought Alex Bowman had a good shot at a decent finish this week but he wound up getting hurt in a sprint car accident making him the second Hendrick driver sitting out races this season dur to extracurricular activity.

This reignited the old debate of should drivers be allowed to compete in other forms of racing. With practice and testing time seriously degraded, many drivers race to get additional seat time. And let’s face it, drivers have been racing in other forms of racing for decades. This isn’t something new. But drivers are tied to sponsors more than ever and the need to win is more important than ever in the playoff system. Losing a top driver for multiple races cuts into that thin margin of time to win a race to make the playoffs. You have to wonder just how long NASCAR will continue to issue passes for these cases.

Brad Keselowksi and Chris Buescher both finished in the Top 10 and Keselowski led 8 laps to continue showing improvement for RFK Racing.

Next up: Kansas

MTJ is the top rated driver at Kansas over the past 6 races but Kansas is far different track than Dover. Momentum is hugely important in racing and he has finished in the Top 10 the past 6 races. Can he win two in a row? Teammate Denny Hamlin is just as good and has a win in the last 6.

Don’t look now but Kyle Larson is the lap leader at Kansas and has a recent Kansas win as do Kyle Busch and Joey Logano who both have fewer Top 10 finishes though.

William Byron is winless but has 5 Top 10 finishes and has been fast all year. Can he take his early dominance at Dover and turn it into a Kansas win?

Bubba Wallace has had a roller coaster year so far and he won Kansas last fall while leading 58 laps. That win also saw Joe Gibbs Racing place three Toyota drivers in the Top 5. A Toyota driver won this race last spring and again held four of the Top 5 positions. Toyota also won the Spring 2021 race and Summer 2020 race. In essence, race day should be a good day for Toyota.

Watch your six and keep the shiny side up.

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images/NASCAR Media)

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