Late Charge Stalls; Truex Jr. Finishes 18th in Martinsville

Just when it appeared that Martin Truex Jr. was heading for a late-race charge his performance took a sudden turn as the Furniture Row Racing driver went from running in the top 10 to an 18th-place finish in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway. 

Truex, who was struggling with handling issues on the half-mile oval, radioed the crew with encouraging news on Lap 346 of 500 saying that his No. 78 Toyota Camry “was good all of a sudden.”

When a caution came out on Lap 383 he was positioned in eighth place. And due to another quick pit stop by the over-the-wall crew Truex restarted seventh. 

“At that point we all felt that we were going have a strong finish with our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota,” said Truex. “But for some reason we couldn’t get going again — we started to drift backwards.” 

As the race was winding down Truex also had to contend with a loose wheel and a pit-road speeding penalty on the final stop (Lap 486).

“This is one of the most difficult tracks on the circuit and we didn’t master it today as we did last year,” noted Truex. 

For the record, Truex posted a pair of sixth-place finishes in last year’s races at the Martinsville short track.

Despite the 18th-place finish Truex remained 11th in driver points.