Sometimes being the leader when a caution comes out late in the race is not the most envious position to be in. Just ask Martin Truex Jr., who had the dominant car Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway leading six different times for a race high of 141 laps.
When the yellow flag waved on Lap 289 of 334 Truex’s No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota was in command of the race. The decision at that time was to pit or not to pit for tires. Truex’s crew chief Cole Pearn opted not to pit while the majority of the cars came down pit road for fresh rubber.
Truex continued to lead, but when another caution came out a few laps later the Furniture Row Racing driver got passed on the restart by cars with fresher Goodyears, and he eventually fell back to finish sixth in the Duck Commander 500 Sprint Cup Series race.
“I was hoping more cars would have stayed out, but when you have the dominant car that’s the only chance they have to beat you,” said Furniture Row Racing crew chief Cole Pearn. “By staying out and leading, we felt that having clean air would be an equalizer. But in that situation it’s easier to make the call when you’re running second and not first. We’ve seen this happen many times in NASCAR when the race leader is sometimes in a no win situation. It was a bummer to finish where we did tonight."
Truex never ran lower than third before the final restart and at one point of the race had a whopping eight-second lead.
“The final caution really hurt us,” said Truex. “The caution before (lap 289) we took the lead on the restart and our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota was driving away. When the race restarted for the final time we just didn’t have the grip everybody else had. We were just sliding around.
“It’s frustrating, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I am proud of my guys for the race car they brought here to Texas -- it was fast all night. It hurts not to have won this race, but we’ll have other opportunities.”
Truex remains 11th place in the driver point standings. The sixth-place result was his third top-10 finish after the first seven races.
The race, which was delayed more than two hours for weather, had seven cautions for 41 laps and 17 lead changes among eight drivers.
The race winner was Kyle Busch. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott, Truex, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick.
The next Sprint Cup Series race is Sunday April 17 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.