Six-Win Weekend for Toyota Drivers
Toyota drivers captured a combined six victories as Martin Truex Jr. closed the weekend with a victory in the postponed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event at Dover International Speedway.
After rain postponed the MENCS race, Truex captured his second victory of 2019 in Dover on Monday, leading 132 laps (of 400).
“This race car was just incredible,” said Truex. “Thanks to everyone who makes this possible. I can’t believe it. Without Talladega, we would have had two in a row. It is special. I am really, really proud to drive these Toyotas. They are awesome and I am a lucky guy.”
Truex drove all the way from the back of the field after starting from the rear to tally his third win at the “Monster Mile” and 21st career-series victory.
Erik Jones (sixth) and Kyle Busch (10th) also finished in the top 10 with Busch continuing to extend his top-10 finishing streak in every MENCS event this season.
In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Christopher Bell earned his third win of the season in addition to his second $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus. Bell led 44 laps (of 200) before capturing his second-consecutive victory at Dover International Speedway.
“Days like today are a really good day,” said Bell. “I didn’t feel like we had a dominant race car and we were still able to win. Those days are really hard to come by and I’m really thankful that I get to drive for such a legendary crew chief like Jason (Ratcliff).”
Supra driver Brandon Jones (seventh) also finished in the top 10, marking his fifth of the season.
Harrison Burton was the highest-finishing Tundra driver in Friday’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS) event at Dover International Speedway where he finished third. It was Burton’s highest NGOTS finish of the 2019 season.
Austin Hill (seventh), Derek Kraus (eighth) and Tyler Ankrum (ninth) also finished in the top 10.
In the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE), Tanner Gray earned his first career-series victory at South Boston Speedway on Saturday in the first of two 100-lap races. Gray made the pass for first place in overtime giving Toyota its second win in the series in 2019.
“It feels really good to get that first win,” said Gray. “I tried to screw it up throughout the race the whole time. I just kept getting loose, chasing it up the race track and made some adjustments there under caution before the green-white-checkered.”
In the second 100-lap event that was postponed until Sunday, Derek Kraus was the victor, driving the No. 16 Toyota to his second NKNPSE win of the season and Toyota’s third series victory. Kraus took the lead at the midway point of the race and went on to lead the remaining 52 laps.
“This track really changes from day and night,” said Kraus. “My Bill McAnally Racing crew made the right moves and gave me a really good Toyota for this day race, and we ended up in victory lane.”
With the win, Kraus now leads the NKNPSE point standings.
On Sunday, Toyota drivers Antron Brown and J.R. Todd advanced to the second round at Atlanta Dragway in NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car competition, respectively.
Brown ran his quickest pass of the weekend in Sunday’s opening run, registering a 3.771. In round two, he had a sizable starting line advantage and held the lead until around 800 feet when he hit a patch of oil on the track. Brown lost traction and the win, but despite the troubles, ran the third-quickest pass of the session.
“We feel confident in our car,” said Brown. “Our team has turned a corner, and we’re looking forward to going to Virginia. When the tracks get hot, I know that we can run with anybody. I feel really confident and am looking forward to some great things for this Matco Toyota team.”
In another rain-postponed event, the ARCA Menards Series finally took to the track on Sunday at Fairgrounds Speedway where Christian Eckes captured his fourth career-series victory. Toyota drivers finished in the top three positions as Ty Gibbs (second) and Chandler Smith (third) came across the finish line just behind Eckes.
After starting from the pole, Smith led 76 laps (of 200) before relinquishing the lead to his teammate. Eckes went on to lead a race-high 120 laps to take his first ARCA victory of 2019.
“It’s been a really rough couple of weeks,” said Eckes. “That was about the longest 80 laps of my life. We still need to be a little better, but we took some strides in the right direction for when we go to Toledo (Ohio) for our next short track race.”
Toyota drivers swept the top-four finishing positions in the POWRi Lucas Oil Midget Series event at Lucas Oil Speedway. Logan Seavey won the race, marking his third victory in five POWRi events this season. Seavey overtook Toyota teammate Jesse Colwell on lap 24 and went on to win the 30-lap feature event on Saturday night.
Colwell went on to finish third while Canon McIntosh and Zach Daum finished second and fourth, respectively.
NASCAR races next at Kansas Speedway as the NGOTS opens the weekend on May 10 at 8:30 p.m. EDT on FS1 and the MENCS competes on May 11 at 7:30 p.m. EDT on FS1.
Formula Drift also returns to action in Round 3: Road to the Championship at Road Atlanta on May 11. Meanwhile, POWRi will run a two-race weekend, racing first at Belle-Clair Speedway on May 10 followed by Macon Speedway on May 11.
Leigh Anne Sessions
Lisa Hughes Kennedy