Most drivers who have led at least 900 laps at a track typically have won at that track at least once, but that hadn't held true for Martin Truex Jr. as he entered the Crayon 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The Loudon, New Hampshire, event was postponed to Monday, but that didn't stop the No. 19 from quickly taking advantage of the race. Truex showed he was the car to beat from the drop of the green flag.
The 2017 series champion made his 30th start at New Hampshire the lucky one, as he was able to lead 254 of the 301 laps en route to the elusive win at the 1.058-mile oval track. The win didn't come easily, as Martin had to hold off a strong charge from Joey Logano on three restarts in the final 24 laps. The win was special not only for the driver, but the team as a whole.
A dominating day for MTJ. Retweet to congratulate Martin Truex Jr. on his WIN at New Hampshire Motor Speedway! pic.twitter.com/Rh2oBJmA51
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) July 17, 2023
Martin Truex Jr. Reacts to New Hampshire Victory
Truex was asked if there was a track on the NASCAR schedule where he most wanted to win more than New Hampshire. He answered with a smile: "I don't think so."
Prior to finally winning Monday, Truex's best finish was third — three times. He has been so dominant at the "Magic Mile" that it's hard to think it took him this long to win it. He has led more than 100 laps five times, including a race-high 172 laps in 2022, only to finish fourth.
In a post-race interview with Holly Cain from NASCAR.com, Truex talked about all the frustration of dominating races at New Hampshire and then not winning.
"What we've been able to do here over the years was pretty remarkable, and to not win was really getting frustrating," Truex said. "[Crew chief] James [Small] and I have talked about it many times and talked with [teammate] Christopher [Bell] before the race, and he said, 'You've led more laps here than I've even run here in the Cup Series.'"
Truex was happy he was able to finally get the monkey off his back and was proud of his team.
"Just really awesome job by everybody. What a race car we had here today. Just proud of the whole team. Pits stops were flawless. The car was unbelievable. We had some challenges throughout the race, and the car was a handful at times, but we put our heads down and just kept digging."
In victory lane, Truex posted a shoutout on his Twitter feed in which he said he was very appreciative of finally getting the race's famed lobster award. He also said it feels like a championship kind of year and told viewers not to keep pestering him about his 2024 plans.
— Martin Truex Jr. (@MartinTruex_Jr) July 17, 2023
A native of Mayetta, New Jersey, Martin wasn't the only member of the Truex family that this win was special for. His entire family has had made many ventures to Loudon over the years, even prior to Martin and his brother, Ryan, racing in NASCAR's top series. It was where his dad, Martin Sr., first gave him a shot in one of his cars, according to Nathan Solomon from the podiumfinish.net.
In 2000, father and son came to New Hampshire twice in the former Busch North Series. It was then that Martin Sr. knew what his son could do, and it also spelled the end of the elder Truex's racing career.
"He's like, 'You're too good. I need to give you my cars — the best equipment I have and put everything behind you,'" Truex said in victory lane after winning the Crayon 301. "I'm like, 'Why are you doing that? Doesn't matter. We're just going to race.' He's like, 'No, because you can win here and keep going.'"
Truex Jr. returned in July, and the rest was history.
Too bad the rest of the family wasn't there to see what his dad said long ago was going to happen. However, Ryan did share a nice blast-from-the-past photo on Twitter.
Re: sitting in grandstands with little brother drinking from bottle pic.twitter.com/E1yZ3B0w43
— Ryan Truex (@Ryan_Truex) July 17, 2023
Martin recalled the photo as well in talking about the importance of New Hampshire and his family.
"Seeing that is just a reminder of what this place means and how long we've been coming here, and what it means to win here again was very, very special."
Way to go, Martin, you finally got Loudon the Lobster — or Larry, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. likes to call him.
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