By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
FORT WORTH, Texas – In Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, blown tires became public enemy No. 1 for two drivers that were among the favorites, Martin Truex, Jr. and Kyle Larson.
When it comes to 1.5-mile tracks, Truex, Jr. had been one of the most consistent over the past year and a half, not finishing outside the top-10 since the 2016 season finale.
Unfortunately for Truex and Furniture Row Racing, that streak would come to an end at Texas as he was the first to fall victim to the tire issues.
After starting sixth, Truex had climbed his way to the runner-up spot as Stage 2 neared its end, running about 11 seconds behind race leader Kevin Harvick when disaster struck for the No. 78 team.
Running the low groove through Turn 4 on lap 80, a tire gave way, sending Truex’s car shooting up the track and making hard contact with the outside wall. The damage to his Toyota was too severe for Truex to be able to continue and he would find himself done for the day.
“We hadn’t had any problems all weekend,” said Truex. “The first set of tires looked good. I don’t know if I ran something over or what it was. Just one of them deals. We had a good car. We were going to be right there all day long I felt like. We still had some room to make it better too.
“I wish we could have seen, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Less than 50 laps later, Larson got bit by a blown tire as well.
Running inside the top-10 after starting 10th, Larson’s tire gave way in Turn 1 on lap 126, sending him all the way up the track, slamming into the outside SAFER barrier. Larson’s car would catch fire, but he had already evacuated himself from the cockpit and would be OK after a brief trip to the infield care center.
For Larson, it was the second trip in a row to Texas that a blown tire ended his day early.
“Down the front stretch I below a right-front (tire) and slammed the wall,” said Larson. “That was a pretty huge hit, but I’m relatively okay. Thanks to NASCAR and all their safety features and SAFER barriers especially.
“I would have liked to have finished this thing out because I feel like our Credit One Bank Chevy was really fast. Wasn’t very good there on the short run that run, but long runs I felt like we were as good or better than anybody.”