Every win in the NASCAR Cup Series matters, especially with the role they play in the playoff picture. Though certain ones just mean more to the teams and drivers, especially the Coca-Cola 600.
Martin Truex Jr. has been fortunate enough to win two Coca-Cola 600s in his career. His first was in 2016 as he started on the pole and led 392 of the 400 laps in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing entry. His second was in 2019 as he led another 116 laps in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Both wins meant that he was able to take part in a time-honored post-race tradition.
“When you win the 600, you get to go upstairs in the Speedway Club and get the jacket — you get a ring and a jacket — it’s a big deal, it’s not like winning a normal race,” Truex said ahead of the Crown Jewel event, per JGR.
“Anytime you get to do those things it’s really special and you definitely savor the moment. For me, leading 492 miles or whatever back in 2016, it was a great trip up there after. The most laps and miles led in a NASCAR race, it was an incredible deal to be able to do that.”
The Race Only Makes Up Part of a Special Day
The Coca-Cola 600 is one of NASCAR’s Crown Jewel races, and for good reason. It is the longest event on the schedule at 600 miles, and it provides teams with an opportunity to honor military members and their families.
Part of this process includes a pause on the track as the drivers and teams honor those that gave their lives in the service of their country. Another part is the tradition of putting a fallen military member’s name on the windshield for the race.
“It’s obviously special to honor a fallen service member on all of our windshields, but also just to meet the family members who get to come to the track,” Truex added. “And just to see their excitement and their appreciation for what NASCAR does to put that on and honor the family members.
“It makes them feel very special, and for us, it’s just a huge honor. To do the break during the race is special, too. It’s just part of the whole day to honor those who have made so many sacrifices for our country, and to have the halfway break is very moving.”
Joe Gibbs Racing Has Multiple Coca-Cola 600 Wins
The Coca-Cola 600 is one of the most prestigious events on the schedule due to its length and everything surrounding the race. Drivers acknowledge the importance of winning this Crown Jewel, and they put extra emphasis on achieving this goal.
Joe Gibbs Racing has been able to accomplish this multiple times in recent seasons with a variety of drivers. Truex delivered one of his wins in a JGR Toyota, and he joined a list that also included Bobby Labonte in 1995, Carl Edwards in 2015, and Kyle Busch in 2018.
Denny Hamlin captured the most recent Coca-Cola 600 win for Joe Gibbs Racing. He won the 2022 race after an overtime battle with then-teammate Kyle Busch, which checked off an important item on his to-do list.