By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
A flat tire early in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism forced Martin Truex, Jr. to fight through the field. Truex’s climb through the field took nearly 300 laps to rebound to finish inside the top-five at Dover International Speedway.
On the final 80-lap run to the finish, Truex’s No. 78 5-hour ENERGY / Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry ran quietly inside the top-five. The defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion battled with Kurt Busch and fellow Toyota Racing driver Daniel Suarez on the restart. Several laps into the run, Truex settled into the fourth position, where he would remain for the rest of the race.
Truex’s climb to finish fourth started on lap 100. After battling with Brad Keselowski for the lead, he had to duck onto pit road with a flat right front tire. Truex then blazed through the field in his Furniture Row Racing Toyota. He just barely missed earning the free pass, having the coveted position until A.J. Allmendinger was lapped prior to the green and white checkered flag waved to end the stage. Crew chief Cole Pearn opted to leave Truex on track to take the wave around and move back to the lead lap.
“It was up and down,” Truex said about his race. “I thought we were pretty good at the beginning of the race and lost that lap and had to come from the back. Just really hard to pass here today. Our car was fast in clean air, but I couldn’t pass anybody – especially those last 200 laps once we got somewhere up towards the front, so it was all about where we come off pit road and how we restarted and it’s frustrating, but we just couldn’t seem to make the car turn off the corner all day long. It was tight from the get go and that really hindered me in traffic.”
The fourth-place finish marked Truex’s sixth top-five finish of the season, and the 73rdof his career. He remains ninth in the Championship Points Standings, 126-points behind Points Leader Kyle Busch. Truex is already locked into the 2018 Playoffs after his victory at Auto Club Speedway earlier this season. He is joined be Kevin Harvick, Busch, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, and Austin Dillon.
Now Truex, Pearn, and the entire Furniture Row Racing team will prepare for the Kansas 400 at Kansas Speedway. The team swept both Kansas races last year and hope for a similar result in their title defense.