Martin Truex Jr. had every right to show some frustration after he saw a potential win escape him due to a broker shifter late in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Instead, the Furniture Row Racing driver, who finished 16th, took an opposite approach, looking to the future with a positive attitude and praising his team for giving him a fast race car.
Truex led five times for 123 laps, the second most in the 301 lapper at the 1.058-mile flat track. Kyle Busch was the lap leader at 133.
During post-race interviews Truex was focused on the big picture, feeling that his team gathered plenty of data for when the series returns to the New England facility in the fall for the second of the 10-race Chase playoffs.
“I am not sure why the shifter broke, this is the first time that happened,” said Truex. “But we’re taking away a lot of positives. I think looking forward to the Chase, and what we’re trying to do with this team, this is a big relief to come here and be able to run well. We knew this was one of our tougher tracks, and if we could come here with a good performance in September, then we’ll be set up to start pretty good in the Chase.
“All in all, I couldn’t be more proud of everybody on this No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota team. We weren’t that good yesterday in (race trim) practice, but the guys went to work last night and we had some good ideas. We talked about it and some things stuck out to Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and to his engineering staff. It paid off, we were strong from the get go.”
However, with fewer than 40 laps remaining and running a close second to eventual race winner Matt Kenseth, Truex reported he had a broken shifter. Since he only had fourth gear, he was a sitting duck on the ensuing restarts. And the only way he could exit his pit box was for the crew to push the car, resembling a bobsled team.
But once his Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota got up to speed he was able to pass cars. Unfortunately, there were a number of cautions and restarts during the closing laps and each time Truex had to battle from the back of pack. He started 26th on the final restart (Lap 290), and drove to 16th when the checkered flag waved 11 laps later.
“It was a total team effort today,” stated Truex. “The pit crew was great, the best they’ve been all year by far. We’re doing everything right, but we’re taking some on the chin here lately, but this isn’t when it counts so we’ll just keep our heads up and keep working. Our race cars are fast and everyone is doing a great job. Sooner or later we’ll get everything straight.”
Truex remained seventh in driver points and is ninth in the Chase playoff points.