Martin Truex Jr. called it “crazy bad luck.” The Furniture Row Racing driver was referring to a peculiar incident that short-circuited his performance in Monday’s rain-delayed and rain-shortened Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.
Truex, who started the 138 lapper from the pole, was owning the race early, leading the first 16 laps to raise his season laps led total to 1,005.
But following a Lap-15 competition caution and a two-tire pit stop, trouble struck Truex’s No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, which posted an unsettling 38th-place finish in the Pennsylvania 400.
As Truex was coming off of Turn 2, his right-front tire blew, sending him into the wall, resulting in heavy damage to his car. He came down pit road for repairs and eventually drove the car to the garage for additional repairs. He did return to the action, but was forced to retire from the race after another tire incident on Lap 100. He ran a total of 82 of the 138 laps.
What caused the tire to go flat on Truex’s Toyota early in the race was an oddity to say the least. A lug nut that came off the old set of tires bounced off the ground, flew through one of the wheel holes, then lodged between the caliper and the wheel, knocking off the tire’s inner stem valve.
“The car just plowed off of turn two – I couldn’t slow down,” explained Truex. “So many weird things have happened to us this year – it’s unbelievable and ridiculous. The car was so good. I was literally on cruise control and driving away.”
Truex suffered a similar fate at the June race in Pocono. Following a pit stop on Lap 118 his right-rear tire blew as a result of a flying lug nut that got stuck behind the wheel, which eventually sheared off the inner stem valve.
“I think it's weird to have a lug nut get stuck behind a wheel, but even more weird that it happened both times at Pocono this season,” said Truex. “I don’t have an explanation. I’m just calling it bad luck.”
Even with his worst finish of the season, Truex only dropped one spot – to eighth -- in the driver point standings. He is actually tied with Jimmie Johnson for seventh, but Johnson wins the tiebreaker because of having more wins. In the Chase playoff points Truex is ninth.
The race winner was Chris Buescher, who didn’t make a final pit stop and rode out the rain delay until NASCAR called the race with 22 laps remaining. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Brad Keselowski, Regan Smith, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch.