BRISTOL, Tenn. – Martin Truex Jr. entered the Truck Series race for the first time in 15 years just to get extra laps on the dirt surface at Bristol Motor Speedway.
That reconnaissance mission turned into a runaway victory for Truex, who dominated the Monday afternoon race and then quickly turned his attention to the main event.
NASCAR's first Cup Series race at a dirt track was delayed a day when torrential rain flooded Bristol's parking lots and campgrounds and turned Monday into a doubleheader. Truex was one of seven Cup drivers entered in the trucks' opener in their attempt to learn how to race the surface.
Bristol is a 0.533-mile concrete bullring that was covered in three layers of red Tennessee clay in NASCAR's attempt to add versatility to its schedule. The Truck Series raced seven times on dirt at Eldora Speedway in Ohio but it had been 50 years since NASCAR's elite got down into the mud.
Truex, who ran one Truck Series race in both 2005 and 2006, had almost no dirt experience before Bristol. He led 105 of the 150 laps, won all three stages and beat series regulars Ben Rhodes, Raphael Lessard and Todd Gilliland for the win.
Chase Briscoe, a Cup Series rookie with a dirt racing background, finished fourth.
Truex won in a Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports and gave the organization its third consecutive win this season.
The converted surface had been a challenge since Friday when a thick dust began to swirl through Bristol's stadium during roughly four hours of practice. Drivers said it clouded their visibility but the bigger problem was the Goodyear tires on the Cup cars.