By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – A pit road speeding penalty forced Martin Truex, Jr. to climb through the field. Truex, who was possibly the only driver that could contend with Coca Cola 600 winner Kyle Busch, spent the rest of the race chasing down those ahead.
Truex, who dominated Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2016, was nowhere near as dominate in 2018. Even though he made quick work of the field, rocketing from outside the top-20 to second, there was no catching Busch. In a bid to keep up with the Championship Points Leader, Truex pitted on the same lap as Busch. The only hope would be a caution or a mistake that never materialized.
Truex believed that only a caution could have helped him catch Busch.
“Maybe with a caution I don’t think without. I mean we definitely gained some ground that last run, but I think he might have just been taking care of it. Just definitely just a battle-back night for us. The speeding penalty and then the pit road penalty right after that in just two stops. It really hurt us and it’s hard to pass – hard to come from behind with these cars right now with the flat splitters and everything they’ve done to them the past month and a half or so. “
“It was good to be able to get back up to second. I thought we had the second-best car all night. I don’t think anybody had anything for that 18 (Kyle Busch). He was stout. We gained a little on him that last run under green, but like I said, I think he was just taking care of it a little bit.”
Truex may have had a chance had it not been for a pit road speeding penalty. Between the second and third stage, the Mayetta, NJ native was busted for speeding entering pit road. Truex had been running second at the time. It took nearly all of Stage 3, and four cautions, for him to climb back up to the eighth position.
The runner-up finish is the eighth top-five and top-10 finish for Truex this season. He is already locked into the Playoffs via his victory at Auto Club Speedway earlier this season and is still 143-Points behind Busch. Truex also has just seven Playoff Points compared to the 25 that Busch, and 24 that Kevin Harvick, have accumulated so far this season.
Now Truex and his Furniture Row Racing team will prepare to return to one of his hometracks, Pocono Raceway, on June 3.