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Truex Jr. extends points lead, but could have had much more

RELATED: Full race results | Driver standings | Stage points for ’17

LOUDON, N.H. — For Coors Light Pole winner Martin Truex Jr., Sunday’s Overton’s 301 had a similar feel to the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team’s dominating run last weekend at Kentucky — at least for a while.

Truex captured the first stage comfortably, increasing his series-best playoff points total to 29 and led the first 78 laps. But there the domination ended.

Divergent pit strategies put Truex deep in the field for the start of the second stage, and a flat right front tire forced him to pit out of sequence in the final stage. A poor restart from the bottom lane after the final caution cost him track position, and Truex couldn’t advance beyond third before the checkered flag.

The good news? Truex increased his lead in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings to 38 points over race runner-up Kyle Larson, who is second in points.

“We had a really good WIX Filters Toyota for most of the race and led a bunch of laps and then got that flat tire, kind of got off sequence,” Truex said. “Whatever happened there after Lap 200 or so, I think the VHT (traction compound) was kind of wore off the track, and we started to lose our edge a little bit there. We still had a shot, but on the last restart we got the inside lane there, restarted third. It wasn’t the place to be, obviously.

“I think the 11 (race winner Denny Hamlin) started fourth, and that was really the place I would have liked to have been. And then we just didn’t get a good restart on the bottom and lost a couple spots and had to battle back and then just didn’t quite have the speed at the end of the race that we had the first 200 laps. All in all, it was a tough-fought day. We had to come from 24th at one point (at the start of the second stage), and just a hard-fought day, a good job by everybody and a solid third-place effort. Just didn’t have enough there at the end.”