A combination of patient driving, fast pit stops when it counted and spot-on car adjustments boosted Martin Truex Jr. to a ninth-place finish in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
Truex, who started 22nd at the 0.75-mile short track, first entered the top-10 following a Lap 87 green flag pit stop. He continued to ride near or in the top 10 until he reported a loose wheel after stopping for four tires on Lap 262 of 400.
The loose right-rear wheel -- due to a jammed lug nut – forced Truex to make an unscheduled pit stop, which pushed him back to 20th in track position.
“That (loose wheel) was unfortunate,” said Truex, driver of the Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota. “But the guys in the pits made a good recovery when we needed it most.”
The six-member over-the-wall crew did indeed come through on the final two pit stops. On the second-to-last stop, Truex picked up three positions, and on the final stop, the No. 78 Toyota came in 10th and restarted ninth.
“We weren’t great today, but we battled as a team to collect a top-10,” noted Truex. “Everyone sucked it up and made a contribution. It’s a fine line from having a decent or bad day.
“Everyone was fighting the slippery track. It was great for the fans and television viewers, but for the drivers it was a challenge. I was sliding all around with no forward drive. It was difficult to make up time when the tires got hot. At times we were pretty good, but didn’t have the consistency to run closer to the front.”
The result was Truex’s fourth top-10 in the first nine races. He remains 10th in driver points.