Martin Truex Jr. capped off a successful Speedweeks with an eighth-place finish in Sunday's Daytona 500.
During the closing laps of NASCAR's biggest race at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, the Furniture Row Racing driver put his No. 78 Chevrolet in contention for the win. He took the lead with 12 laps remaining, and was running in the top-five when the final caution came out with two laps to go in regulation.
"I sure hated to see that last caution come out," said Truex, who ran a good portion of the race in the top-10 and top-five. "We didn't restart in the lane I was hoping for."
For the green-white-checkered restart, Truex started fifth and would have preferred to be in the outside lane.
"We were one spot away from being in the catbird seat, but restrictor-plate racing is all about circumstances," said Truex.
Though Truex had a strong race car, he had to overcome a couple of problems during the 203-lap overtime race.
"We almost threw away this race a couple of times," noted Truex. "One was for a pit-road speeding penalty and another for a fuel issue. Those issues were costly at the time, dropping us back to the rear of the field. But we came charging back with a powerful race car and good pit strategy by our crew chief Cole Pearn. When you can come back like the way we did it says something about the makeup of this team. It was a lot of fun to run up front and to be in contention at the end."
When asked to evaluate Speedweeks, Truex said, "It was by far the best Speedweeks of my career. We were consistent with three top-10 finishes and no major damage to the car. The road crew did a great job in every aspect of what was needed the past 10 days. And a big shout out goes to the guys back at the Denver shop for giving me awesome race cars."
Along with finishing eighth in the 500, Truex had finishes of second in the Sprint Unlimited and fifth in the Budweiser Duel qualifying race.
"The work we did over the winter, the testing towards the end of last season and the team changes we implemented all make me feel really good about 2015," said an upbeat Truex. "Last year we finished 43rd in the 500, today it was eighth and I felt our car was better than what the finish showed."