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Martin Truex Jr. Dominates at Darlington

by Chase McCabe

Martin Truex Jr. led 248 laps en route to his third victory of the 2021 campaign. Truex has shown he is pretty good when it comes to low downforce tracks and by pretty good, I mean pretty damn good. Starting 4th, Truex would be the class of the field for most of the day. Kyle Larson would challenge him towards the end of the race, but once Truex cleared the lapped cars, it was relatively smooth sailing from there.

Truex did expand upon what was going through his mind when he saw Larson getting closer.

"You know, I think you just go from being really calm and like, all right, this is great, no cautions, let’s take care of this thing, and just click off the laps and run 90, 95 percent, leave a little bit out there, try to take care of your tires, self-defense, all that kind of stuff. Then next thing you know you have a slow pit stop, this and that, you get caught behind a few cars, lap cars racing, whatnot. You’re like, oh, man, he’s right there. Like I hadn’t had to race him all day, where did he come from, better get going, crap, now I’m too loose, I can’t go any faster.
Heart rate goes up and anxiety goes up and you just try not to make any mistakes."

Truex now has 2 wins at Darlington to his credit and as mentioned his third in 2021, 5th top 5 and 8th top 10.

Larson shouldn't feel too bad though. In just his 12th race at Hendrick Motorsports, Larson has 5 top 5s and 7 top 10s to go along with his win earlier this year. He seems to be in contention every week and it has truly been impressive to see things come together as quickly as they have.

"I just think I’ve got a great group of people around me throughout all of Hendrick Motorsports but especially on our 5 car. Their preparation is something that is pretty awesome to see, and I feel like I’m putting in a lot of work off the track, too, to get myself up to speed with no practice and things like that.
Honestly probably no practice benefits me a little bit, just from being able to adapt quickly and not giving myself an opportunity to tune ourselves out with any bad feedback.
It’s been really fun to be this good this early on in the year, and like I said earlier, I hope we can just continue to build on it and get better and be the best when it comes to the final 10 races."

Kyle Busch would back up his win last week at Kansas with another solid run, finishing third. It's the first time Busch has had back to back top 5's since he finished 5th at Kansas and then won at Texas last season.

It was also throwback weekend at the Darlington Raceway. Teams brought out the old school paint schemes to pay tribute to the past. Darlington moved throwback weekend to the spring this year as it has been a part of the Southern 500 since 2015. Darlington was awarded a 2nd race for the 2021 season after such a success in running 3 races last year during COVID.

With Martin Truex Jr.'s dominance today and knowing his love of low-downforce tracks, what does this mean moving forward? We have seen him in the past get on a run and pop off multiple wins in a short time span. As Dover comes up next for the Cup series, it has been a very good place for Truex. In 30 races, he has 3 wins 9 top 5s, 18 top 10s and 980 laps led. Kyle Larson has 1 win, 6 top 5s and 9 top 10s with 617 laps led in 12 races. It will be interesting to see how these two fair at the Monster Mile and will we see the likes of Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch have something to say about it?

Chasing Checkers airs every Saturday morning at 9:00CT on ESPN 102.5 the Game in Nashville, TN and can be found anytime on demand by subscribing to the podcast.

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