A year ago, the Furniture Row Racing driver lead a NASCAR-record 392 laps of a possible 400. Whether it was a nailbiter in Daytona previous year, mishap at Kansas in 2016 or fuel mileage in Charlotte, Truex has seen so many strong efforts fall short.
It was the first win for the No. 3 auto in NASCAR Cup Series since Dale Earnhardt Sr. won on October 15, 2000, at Talladega. Thats not a bad idea since Johnson, a seven-time Cup champion, has won more Cup Series races at CMS than any driver. Truex has been one of the top values on this track type. May. Jones was pitting one stall further down the track than Johnson, forcing the No. 48 Chevrolet to maneuver past him.
Hamlin won the third stage.
It was simply not meant to be this week for Kyle Larson, who was the points leader heading into the race.
Larson was forced to start 39th out of 40 after not being able to clear inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt on Thursday, but immediately blasted through the field to become a contender. The names of fallen military service members are placed on the front windshields of all the Cup Series cars in the Coca-Cola 600, and specially-prepared Honor and Remember flags are displayed throughout the garage area, representing those who have died in service from each of the 50 United States.
"I did all that I could from that point and just came up a little bit short", he said. "I ran into the back of Chase".
Austin Dillon picked up his first career win early Monday morning by winning the Coca-Cola 600 in a race that came down purely to a strategy that paid off. Instead, his chances ended less than 25 laps into the race when he ran over pieces of Jeffrey Earnhardt's crumbling vehicle and could not gain traction as Brad Keselowski slammed into the rear of the No. 24 Chevrolet. Brad Keselowski attempted to brake and steer clear of Elliott's No. 24 auto, but couldn't do either due to the oil on the track.
"I definitely burned myself up trying to get through traffic", said Truex. "But we got the win a year ago".
Busch retook the lead from Truex inside the final 10 laps of the opening stage.
Kansas driver Clint Bowyer finished in 14th place.
For the second straight Cup Series points race, there was fire.
Truex looked like he was going to cruise to a Stage 3 victory as well, but Kyle Larson hit the wall for the second time in the race to bring out a caution with eight laps to go.
Busch hasn't won a Sprint Cup race yet this season.
The stage was delayed by a 1-hour, 39-minute lightning and rain delay. He was in the top 10 by Lap 15 and through attrition, after his teammate Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski were eliminated following a wreck on Lap 20, Johnson easily remained in the top 10 for stage points in the first two segments. Did it also put Dillon front and center among the next wave of racers supplanting retired or departing stars like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and, after this season, Dale Earnhardt Jr.?