Originally created 05/24/04

Truex Jr. wins thrilling final Busch race at Nazareth



NAZARETH, Pa. -- Martin Truex Jr. led for just one lap in the final NASCAR Busch Series race at Nazareth Speedway on Sunday, yet still managed his series-best fourth win of the season.

Truex battled lapped traffic and cut underneath Bobby Hamilton Jr. down the backstretch on lap 200 in a thrilling finish Sunday in the Goulds Pumps ITT Industries 200.

"There was no plan," Truex said of the final, tight laps. "I found a hole and used it for the win."

Truex started gaining ground on Hamilton in the final 10 laps. Hamilton had dominated since taking the lead on lap 75 and seemed poised to earn his first win of the season.

Instead, it was Truex who started chipping away and took advantage of lapped traffic.

About 20 laps into the race, the leaders started passing some of the cars at the back of the field. It stayed that way until the end when Hamilton took one of the corners too hard, got lost in some side-by-side traffic and couldn't stay in control.

Hamilton was visibly angry over the ending and compared Nazareth to an ARCA track.

"That's the way it goes here. You can't pass here," Hamilton said. "We can take our top-five finish and go to a real racetrack and race. He got lucky with the traffic."

The one lap that Truex led was the fewest ever for a winner in a Busch Series race at Nazareth Speedway. He won by only 0.140 seconds with an average speed of 110.616 mph.

Truex, who clutched his trophy before his postrace interview, acknowledged the outcome was influenced by lapped cars, before adding with a smile, "I won the race, I'm not going to complain."

The win pushed Truex past pole-sitter Kyle Busch for the lead in the Busch Series points standings. Truex has 1,803 points; Busch, who led the first 54 laps, has 1,772.

Truex's four wins are as many as Hamilton had last season when he led the Busch Series in victories.

"I was surprised we got the first one," Truex said. "I'm not surprised anymore. We've got a great team."

It was the 17th and final Busch Series race at Nazareth Speedway. The speedway will close after the 2004 season and International Speedway Corporation plans to move the speedway's NASCAR Busch and IRL IndyCar series events to other tracks.

The track, about 50 miles north of Philadelphia, sometimes hosts driving schools, Boy Scout jamborees and other events.

It will host the Firestone Indy 225, an Indy Racing League event, on Aug. 29.

Truex, driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., started 20th in row 10, but was able to move up on what was a pretty clean race - there were only two cautions on a hot day at the 0.946-mile, tri-oval track.

"It's real, real hard to pass," Truex said. "I passed only five cars all day and went from (No.) 20 to the win."

David Green was third, followed by Jason Keller and David Stremme.