Martin Truex Jr. wins NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Martin Truex Jr., steers his car into Turn 1 during the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Martin Truex Jr., steers his car into Turn 1 during the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

FILE - Martin Truex Jr. looks on prior to the NASCAR All-Star Cup Series auto race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, Sunday, May 21, 2023, in North Wilkesboro, N.C. The 43-year-old Martin Truex Jr. has yet to make a decision -- at least, publicly -- on if he’ll return for another season at Joe Gibbs Racing or hang up the helmet and end a career that included the 2017 NASCAR championship.(AP Photo/Matt Kelley, File)

FILE - Martin Truex Jr. looks on prior to the NASCAR All-Star Cup Series auto race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, Sunday, May 21, 2023, in North Wilkesboro, N.C. The 43-year-old Martin Truex Jr. has yet to make a decision -- at least, publicly -- on if he’ll return for another season at Joe Gibbs Racing or hang up the helmet and end a career that included the 2017 NASCAR championship.(AP Photo/Matt Kelley, File)

Tyler Reddick steers his car during the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Tyler Reddick steers his car during the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne—AP

Christopher Bell (20) brings his car into the pit for tires and fuel during the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Christopher Bell (20) brings his car into the pit for tires and fuel during the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Fans and race teams walk along pit road before the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Fans and race teams walk along pit road before the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne—AP

A tight pack of cars enters Turn 2 during the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A tight pack of cars enters Turn 2 during the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne/AP

Pole-sitter Christopher Bell (20) leads the pack during the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Pole-sitter Christopher Bell (20) leads the pack during the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP — Steven Senne

Martin Truex Jr., celebrates his win in the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Martin Truex Jr., celebrates his win in the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP photos — Steven Senne

Martin Truex Jr., does a burnout as a camera person, left, runs along side after winning the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Martin Truex Jr., does a burnout as a camera person, left, runs along side after winning the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) ap — Steven Senne

Martin Truex Jr., celebrates his win in the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Martin Truex Jr., celebrates his win in the Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series auto race, Monday, July 17, 2023, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) ap — Steven Senne

By JASON REMILLARD

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 07-17-2023 10:06 PM

LOUDON — For Martin Truex Jr., having a case of the Mondays isn’t that bad.

The New Jersey native has won three rescheduled races on a Monday at Dover Motor Speedway, and on Monday he added another one to his total at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Truex led 254 laps and won every stage en route to a dominant victory in the NASCAR Cup Series’ Crayon 301. He held off Joey Logano and Kyle Larson on a pair of late-race restarts for his third win of the season and 34th of his career.

“I hate to say that it’s a Monday thing, but Mondays have been good to us,” Truex said.

Truex, driver of the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, has now led triple-digit laps at New Hampshire six times and more than 1,000 laps total in his career at the Magic Mile. However, he had not visited Victory Lane here in a Cup car in 29 previous starts. His previous best finish at Loudon was third, three times. NHMS is one of several “home tracks” for Truex, as his history here dates back to his childhood accompanying his father, Martin Truex Sr., as he raced in the old NASCAR Busch North Series.

“It’s no secret that I’ve been after this one for a long time,” Truex said. “It was well worth the wait.

Logano finished second, followed by Larson. Kevin Harvick, in his final career outing at New Hampshire, was fourth, while Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.

“We definitely didn’t dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s, but we did a good job all weekend,” Harvick said.

A good-sized crowd came back to the track after the race was rained out on Sunday. It was a hot, humid day but the fans were undeterred. They were treated to a dominant performance from Truex, who performed a very smoky burnout on the frontstretch to celebrate.

“We love coming to Loudon,” No. 19 team owner Joe Gibbs said. “It’s a big deal coming up here, and to be truthful, we have a good confidence when we race here.”

Truex took the lead back from Kevin Harvick, who chose not to pit, on the first lap after a restart on lap 278, with Logano coming up to second. Another caution flew only two laps later when Alex Bowman wrecked due to contact with Ty Gibbs. Truex got a good run on Logano on the restart on lap 285 , but the caution flew again just three laps later when pole-sitter Christopher Bell struck the wall. On the next restart on lap 293, Logano lined up behind Truex and Larson beside him but neither could not take the top spot away.

“When you’re at your home racetrack, second hurts more than anywhere else,” said Logano, who hails from Middletown, Connecticut.

A good green-flag pit stop with just over 60 laps to go kept Truex ahead of Ryan Blaney, who pitted the previous lap from second place. Truex assumed the lead after Austin Dillon pitted on lap 258. Noah Gragson blew a brake rotor on lap 271, leading to another round of pit stops. Truex’s crew chief, James Small, and most of the leaders opted to change two tires, and Truex came out in third place behind Harvick and Dillon, who opted not to pit.

“I was up last night stressing, thinking about all the different scenarios,” Small said. “I knew in the end it (two tires) was the call to make. We would have been buried if we took four.”

Truex had to fight back after a lap 164 pit stop in which Aric Almirola and a couple other drivers took only two tires while Truex changed four.

However, Almirola’s crew did not fully tighten the right rear tire and he crashed into the wall in turn two on the ensuing restart. Larson led the field on the next restart, but Truex quickly got by him to take the top spot back.

The pit stops following the second stage brought another mixed bag of pit strategies.

Larson came in for service, while Truex and Logano stayed out. Truex hung onto the lead over the ensuing 40 laps, but as he fought off Blaney, he reported the car was getting looser and harder to handle.

Truex took the lead on lap 3 from Bell and held onto it until a caution on lap 29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took no tires while William Byron took two, and they won the race off pit road.

Byron quickly passed Stenhouse on a lap 34 restart and hung on until Truex passed him off turn 4 on lap 43. Truex checked out and built the lead to 3.5 seconds at the end of the first stage at lap 70.

Truex also won this season at Dover and Sonoma. He started from the pole at Darlington and led 145 laps, his previous season high in laps led before Monday, before crashing.

NOTES: Kyle Busch’s rough weekend continued Monday when he tagged the wall on the final lap of stage 1. He had to start at the back of the field after repairing his car from damage suffered in practice and qualifying on Saturday. He finished last in the 36-car field … During a cycle of green-flag pit stops in stage 3, Harvick surpassed 16,000 laps led for his career, which is ending following this season.

Jason Remillard is a copy editor and page designer for Newspapers of New England. He can be reached at jremillard@recorder.com and followed on Twitter @racinwithjason.