Photo: Chris Owens/ASP, Inc.

Short Track Bridesmaid Once Again for Truex after Pit Penalty

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

For the sixth time this season, a pit road penalty handcuffed Martin Truex, Jr., and he once again remains a bridesmaid on short tracks, finishing an agonizing third behind fellow “Big Three” members Kevin Harvick and race winner Kyle Busch in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.

It was Truex’s race to lose as he lead 162 of the first 203 laps, and swept both stages in the process. Without any hurdles, it appeared that his bid of finally capturing his first short track victory was in the works.

That all changed when he brought his No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry to make his pit stop under caution, and disaster happened. Although Truex exited third, he had to start from the tail end of the lead lap as an uncontrolled tire bit him in the dust.

From there, Truex had to rally back from a 16th restarting position and see if his dominant car could lead him back to the front. Unfortunately, he would only lead one more lap and grabbed third from a fading Brad Keselowski with 20 laps to go, where he settled after having high hopes prior to the costly penalty.

Truex said he had used up his tires to get third, and felt that another pit stop would’ve done him wonders. Instead, he’s 0-for-77 on short tracks in his career.

“Another pit stop maybe,” said Truex. “We used it up there at the end trying to get — I think we restarted eighth on the outside and to get back to third we were kind of used up at the end. But, man, what an awesome race car the guys brought here. The Auto-Owners Toyota was fast. It was really good all day.”

Truex added that he just isn’t sure what’ll take to break his goose egg, but credited his Furniture Row Racing team on a good recovery.

“Just man, I don’t know what we’ve got to do to win this race,” said Truex. “We’ve probably led more than anyone here ever that’s not won it. It’s crazy, but it wasn’t meant to be tonight. Hell of an effort by the guys and good recovery by the guys on pit road.

“Thanks to all you guys back in Denver working your butts off to bring these fast cars and just keep digging and we’re moving on. So, that’s the name of the game and hopefully we’ll get the win when we really need it.”

As Busch scored his 50th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, the defending champion capped off his comeback with his 17th top-five finish, making it 17-for-17 in the top-five/ten category. More importantly, he locked himself into the Round of 12 via points, thanks to a 16 point lead over Busch.

Therefore, an animated Truex had no concerns heading into the elimination race at the Charlotte Roval in North Carolina Sept. 29.

“Yippee! Here we go,” said Truex. “It’s going to be fun.

“I mean, I feel really bad for the guys that are going to go in there and have to do something. I think everybody is scared to death of that place. We’re going to go and have some fun and see if we can’t get some points.”

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a three-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.