A long day at Kansas Speedway for Martin Truex Jr. and company somehow ended on a high note.
Truex was one of a few drivers who found trouble in Turn 2 and suffered damage from a flat tire. In his case, it was wrong place at the wrong time when Brad Keselowski slid up in front of him, which caused Truex to get out of the gas, into the back of Keselowski, and scrap the wall. Truex pitted under green on lap 52 and fell two laps down.
Able to drive around the race leader to get a lap back, Truex finished the first stage in 28th place. In the second stage, Truex ran out of fuel early and pitted on lap 143. He was 18th, still trapped a lap down at the end of the stage.
But things started to turn around in the final stage. A timely caution a few laps into the start of the final stage helped Truex get back on the lead lap by way of the wave around. With so few cars on the lead lap, Truex marched back inside the top 10 before the lap 200 mark.
“You never quit fighting in these things, and all you can do is the best you can do,” Truex said. “Just kept working on it and kept making adjustments and do what we could. We were able to get back on the lead lap there and take the wave around with the quick caution and battle from there. All the guys did a great job on this Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, and it was pretty fast.
“Just sixth or seventh, where we finished was about where we were going to be. I would have liked to have done without that damage; it was pretty fast before that. Unfortunate the way that deal worked out, but we’re still in it, we’re still fighting, and we look forward to next weekend.”
A DNF in Texas last weekend put Truex in an early hole in the Round of 8. But he was able to take a chunk out of his deficit, going from 22 points out to three, after Kansas with one race to go before the championship field is set.
“I feel good about that,” Truex said. “We’re going to have a good starting position now and good pit selection. The place has been good to us. If we can get up there and win a couple of stages and battle for the win, I think we’ll be able to get ourselves in.
“We’ll wait and see how it goes; you never know how these things are going to play out. Excited for the opportunity and thankful for everybody for all their hard work.”