Martin Truex Jr. won the pole Friday for the NASCAR Cup Series race Saturday at Richmond Raceway, edging Chase Elliott.
The pole is the series-best third of the season for Truex, the 18th of his career and his first at the 0.75-mile oval.
It’s also a nice turnaround after finishing 37th and 30th in the past two races. Before that, he’d had five straight top-five finishes.
“Definitely a good way to start the weekend,” said Truex, who is seeking his first career short-track victory. “I’d say out of all the short tracks, this is probably the one we’ve probably been consistently the best at and definitely had the most chances to win here. I feel like we’ve run really strong the last few times and led a bunch of laps.
“Definitely feel like we should have won here already,” he said.
Truex’s winning lap came at 123.859 mph.
Elliott, coming off a 29th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway, is 23rd in the points standings and still seeking his first career victory.
“I thought it was much improved from where we have been,” the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. “You’ve got to take the small victories every now and then in life and especially in the racing world. We are just trying to take those right now. A much better Friday than we have been having.”
Daly-Allen lead Champions
John Daly and Michael Allen took the second-round lead Friday in the cool and breezy Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf in Ridgedale, Mo.
Daly and Allen shot an 8-under 46 on the Top of the Rock par-3 course with wind gusting to 15 mph and the temperature only in the high-50s at Big Cedar Lodge. They had three birdies on the front nine in alternate-shot play and added five more on the back in better-ball play to get to 13 under.
“Michael and I go back to the South African days in the late 80s and playing that tour,” Daly said. “We’ve been buddies since. He’s just fun to play with. We feed off each other pretty good. And if he’s not comfortable guinea-pigging on one hole, I’ll go first.”
On Thursday, they opened with a 66 on the regulation Buffalo Ridge course. They will rotate to the 13-hole Mountain Top par-3 course on Saturday, and return to Top of the Rock for the final round Sunday.
“I went to high school in Jeff City, so it’s cool to have the fans behind us,” Daly said.
Allen won the PGA Tour Champions team event with David Frost in 2012 and Woody Austin in 2016.
Defending champions Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco were a stroke back along with Bernhard Langer-Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst-Kirk Triplett. Singh and Franco had a 7-under 32 in best-ball play at Mountain Top, and Lehman-Langer and Broadhurst-Tripplet each shot 6-under 48 at Top of the Rock.
Zach Johnson was going nowhere in the Valero Texas Open when it all changed with one putt.
He made an 8-foot par putt on the 13th hole of the opening round to stay at 2 under. He followed with a big drive, a hybrid into 12 feet and an eagle. Johnson was on his way, and he kept right on going Friday to a 7-under 65 and a share of the 36-hole lead with Ryan Moore in San Antonio
“You just never know. That’s the beauty of this game,” Johnson said. “I felt like I was hitting some solid shots and wasn’t getting rewarded, and you’ve just got to stay in it. You’ve got to persevere, grind it out, fight for pars. You just never know.”
Moore had three birdies over his last five holes for a 67 and joined Johnson at 9-under 135.
They had a one-shot lead over Grayson Murray (69) and Andrew Landry (67).
Ben Crane (66), Martin Laird (65) and David Hearn (68) were three shots behind. Billy Horschel and Keegan Bradley shot 71 and were four shots behind at 5-under 139.
Sergio Garcia, who consulted Greg Norman on the design of the AT&T Oaks Course at the TPC San Antonio, had a short stay in his first time at the Texas Open since 2010. Garcia shot an even-par 72, and at one point became so frustrated he threw his driver into the shrubs.
Garcia finished at 2-over 146 and missed the cut.