DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Former Furniture Row Racing teammates worked well together in the final laps of Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400. Erik Jones was a rookie last season with FRR and he pushed his former teammate Martin Truex Jr. to the lead on Lap 161. After he did so, a caution flew making this race extend to a second overtime.
Instead of Truex and Jones finishing 1-2, they’d have to do it all over again. But, on that final restart, Jones made a great move to the lead and had drafting help from Truex to help propel him to his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. Truex, would bring his No. 78 Toyota home second for a 1-2 Toyota finish.
That was shocking in the least because Toyota didn’t think that they had much of a shot at celebrating in victory lane at the Daytona International Speedway this weekend. See, Toyota’s don’t have the preferred aero package on superspeedway. At Talladega, none of the five Toyota’s would make the final round of qualifying for that race. Same could be said for this weekend in Daytona.
But, they led 22 laps in total in tonight’s race, none more important than the final one by Jones. For Truex, he led 20 of those 22 laps where that in turn was shocking enough. Truex, isn’t known as a great plate racer. Its been years since he last scored a top 10 finish on a restrictor plate track. At Daytona, he finishes runner-up for his seventh top four finishes over the last eight races on the season.
Toyota drivers only led 37 of 207 laps in this past year’s Daytona 500. At Talladega, they led just 12 laps. The speed isn’t there for them. When Ford lead 150 laps in February and 126 more at Talladega in April, to go along with 90 more tonight and doesn’t win either of the two races at Daytona, it’s a failure in their eyes.
But, a failure in those eyes is a huge win in Toyota’s. This was just their second career Cup Series victory at the World Center of Racing and in both races, they finished 1-2.