It appeared to be smooth sailing for Martin Truex Jr., who drove his backup car to the front, holding down the fifth position when a caution came out at exactly the halfway mark (Lap 250 of 500) of Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
But the four-tire pit stop that followed the caution started a chain of adversity for Truex’s No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, which came home with a 28th-place finish in the Irwin Tools Night Race.
Truex reported a loose wheel when action resumed on the half-mile oval. The culprit was only four of the five lugnuts got secured on the right-front wheel during the pit stop. The incident forced Truex to make an unscheduled stop under green, which sent him back to 24th place and two laps down.
Truex, who qualified 23rd, continued his tenacious battle on the world’s fastest half-mile, but the gremlins struck again while running in 17th place. His car got collected in an accident and suffered major left-side damage.
If a backup car, a loose wheel and being collected in an accident weren’t enough to deal with in one weekend, Truex took a final blow while running in 15th place when NASCAR black flagged his car on Lap 443 for loose sheet metal on the driver-side door. The green flag pit stop to repair the issue doomed any chance of a top-10 finish.
“Too many obstacles to overcome in one weekend,” said a disappointed Truex, who was forced to a backup car after his primary car hit the wall in Friday’s opening practice due to a broken left-control arm.
Crew chief Cole Pearn said, “I felt we had a top-three car tonight, but the loose wheel really hurt our chances.”
Truex dropped from fourth to sixth in driver points.