Martin Truex Jr. breaks 54-race winless streak at Dover, outdueling Ross Chastain PIC 1

TRUEX, TRUE TO FORM: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Würth 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 1, 2023, in Dover, Delaware. James Gilbert/Getty Images/Tribune News Service

What a weekend for the Truex family.

Martin Truex Jr., the Joe Gibbs Racing star and former Cup Series champion who came into Monday with a 54-points-race winless streak, notched his first win of the 2023 season at Dover Motor Speedway.

The Mayetta, New Jersey, native did so at his home racetrack.

He did so in front of his father, former NASCAR driver Martin Truex Sr.

And he did so two days after his brother, Ryan Truex, earned his first career Xfinity Series win.

So, yes, it’s worth reiterating: This weekend couldn’t have gone better for the Truex family.

“Man, it feels incredible,” a happy Truex told the Fox broadcast after burning out his tires at the start-finish line. He added: “This is a special place. It was such a big day for our family to see Ryan do that on Saturday. He’s worked so hard for so long to get good opportunities, and it was awesome to see him take advantage of that.

“For us, we’ve given away a few here over the years, and it feels nice to get one to come around our way for once. So just excited, and this thing was a hot rod, just had to get it up front.”

Martin Truex Jr. knew he was going to be in winning contention early at Dover. It wasn’t just that the Motor Mile has suited him in the past — the driver also knew how fast his car was. During a revealing moment in Stage 2, Truex had a frustrating exchange with his team over his in-car radio, saying in part that passing was difficult and that if he was in the lead he’d “drive away” from his competition with ease.

And he got that chance to command the race from the top late in Stage 3.

With about 65 laps to go, on a crucial green-flag pit stop, Truex overtook leader Ross Chastain and did as he said he would — extending his lead on the 1 car by nearly two seconds at one point.

Truex was then tasked with swerving through lapped traffic — which he did with aplomb — and then a Joey Logano spin-out-turned-caution forced Truex to come up big on one last restart with 10 laps to go.

And he did.

Truex’s 19 team elected to take two right-side tires on the caution pit stop to maintain P1 track position. He then got a great start, held off Ryan Blaney, and then outdueled Ross Chastain in the end (who was running on four tires).

Chastain finished second. Blaney — who is looking for his first points-race win in 57 tries now — finished third. William Byron (fourth) and Denny Hamlin (fifth) filed in right behind them.

Monday’s win means that Truex is essentially locked into the playoffs — which is a luxury that eluded the ultra-consistent driver in 2022. It also marks his first win since the Clash at the Coliseum in February and his first points-race win since September 2021 in Richmond.

“It felt like we’ve been close a bunch of times, and we gave some away, that’s for sure,” Truex added. “Thought today, man, late caution, what’s going to happen here? But just a great call by (crew chief) James (Small) to take two and then was able to get a pretty good restart and get (Ryan) Blaney there. He raced me hard but clean.”

Other notable performances: Ross Chastain’s rep, Kyle Busch’s mistake

Monday’s race saw seven cautions for 46 laps, 19 lead changes and eight different leaders. Byron led the most laps with 193, followed by Chastain with 98. Truex led 68.

Here’s who else had memorable finishes on Monday.

Ross Chastain. He’s been called “a wrecking ball.” He’s had a “Thanks Ross” meme circulate on Twitter. And on Monday, the driver of the No. 1 car saw his contentious reputation get thrust in the spotlight again. About midway through Stage 1, Chastain got into the back of Brennan Poole, who then spun out and slid up the racetrack and hit Kyle Larson. (Poole’s day concluded after that; Larson ended up finishing the race, but he didn’t get his car all fixed up until the start of Stage 2, when he was 28 laps down.)

That hit prompted a caution, yes, but also a bunch of good-old-fashioned name-calling. Larson called Chastain impatient and a(n) “(expletive) idiot” to his team over the radio, and Poole suggested to Fox Sports that Chastain needed to get his “butt whooped” so he can learn that running people over isn’t a sustainable style of racing in this sport. As for Chastain? “I did not mean to do that at all,” he told his team over the radio.

Outside of that early controversy, Chastain put together a great run. He led a bulk of Stage 2 and was in winning contention until the end.

Kyle Larson. Not to dwell on the Chastain-Poole-Larson debacle too much, but one additional note: Larson met minimum speed after his car sustained a lot of right-front damage. His team then took the car back to the garage, and then the 5 car reemerged at the beginning of Stage 2 far from the lead lap — well out of winning contention. The 5 team nonetheless ran well the rest of the way, collecting data for future mile-long tracks. It’s in moments like these where you see how this 5 team can win at places no one expects them to — say, like at Martinsville, the short-track where Larson won at earlier this year. That result brought him to joyful tears. He ultimately finished 32nd on Monday.

Kyle Busch. At a racetrack where track positioning was “everything” — and at a racetrack where Busch has seen so much success — this one looked like it would be the 8 car’s for the taking. He started on the pole on Monday after bad weather canceled qualifying Saturday. Busch then led the first 20 laps and was ferociously fast. But a penalty for speeding on pit road after the competition caution made him start at the rear of the field early in Stage 1, and then a Stage 1 photo finish with his teammate Austin Dillon made him start Stage 2 a lap down. The two-time Cup Series champion finished 21st.

Denny Hamlin. Saying the 11 car has “struggled” at the beginning of the 2023 season is hardly fair. Hamlin came into Dover 10th in the points standings and has largely performed well at his favorite racetracks. Still, frustration bubbled over in different moments on Monday. The most revealing of those moments: In Stage 2, with Hamlin running in the Top 5 trying to take a shot at the leader, he couldn’t get around teammate Christopher Bell. Hamlin then yelled to his team over the radio: “What is C Bell doing?!” The 11 car turned in a P5 finish.

Ty Gibbs.The rookie put together another impressive run on Monday. He’s been cool and calm and collected this year — an unexpected but welcomed change after a fiery Xfinity Series championship a year ago — and that has paid dividends. He came into Dover with four Top 10s in the past six races and finished P13 on Monday after a fueling mishap late in the race.