CONCORD, N.C. -- Martin Truex Jr.'s bid to win NASCAR's longest race looked to be over when he slapped the wall just 73 laps into the 400-lap Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 26. But as it turned out, Truex's race was just beginning.
He not only recovered from his early wallburger, he went on to get the victory in one of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' crown jewels.
"I thought we were done when we blew a tire and hit the wall," Truex said in his on-track interview after climbing out of his car. "Just kept fighting."
The victory was the Joe Gibbs Racing driver's second in the 600, third at CMS and third in the last five points races in the 2019 season.
Truex led for much of the fourth and final 100-lap stage, grabbed the lead for good on a restart with four laps to go and drove away Team Penske driver Joey Logano to get the 22nd victory of his career.
Logano finished second while fellow Joe Gibbs driver Kyle Busch was third.
Rounding out the top five were Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of Roush Fenway Racing.
Truex appeared to be cruising to an easy victory but with 10 laps to go Brad Keselowski blew a tire and brought out the yellow flag. The leaders all pitted for tires but Ryan Newman came out first after taking only two tires while all the other leaders took four. That forced Truex to go four wide to get his final lead on the restart.
"What a race there at the end," Truex, who led 116 laps, said afterward.
The race began under bright sunlight and with ambient temperatures in the mid-90s. The heat and sun caused early race problems as a sizable number of cars suffered flat tires that sent them into outside walls.
Several of those wall bangers were contenders for good finishes. Among them were Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Truex, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones. Truex and Hamlin recovered from their early scrapes but Jones, who wrecked early in the first stage, could not continue.
In all, the caution flag waved 15 times in the race.
Team Penske's Keselowski, who started the race 21st, won the first stage in a race that featured four 100-lap stages. He then collected the Stage 2 win in dominating fashion, finishing more than four seconds in front of Busch. Truex won Stage 3.