Truex Punches His Ticket to the Championship Four
Martin Truex, Jr. punched his ticket to the final four of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs after taking the checkered flag at Martinsville Speedway.
After being moved on the last lap in 2018, Truex came ready for battle. He dominated from the start, winning stage 1 and 2 and leading 464 of the 500 lap show.
The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Toyota seemed to have no issue throughout the race, even when faced with several late race restarts. Truex was able to pull away fairly easily on each restart and maintain position.
Martinsville has not always been one of Martin’s strongest tracks, but the team gets better every year. This was his first win at the famed short track and his seventh win of the season.
William Byron, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-5.
The Round of 8 playoff battle continues at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 3 PM ET on NBCSN.
Toyota Teammates Wreck To Change Complexion of Brickyard 400
INDIANAPOLIS— In a race that looked like it was going to be won by the Toyota Racing teammates of Kyle Busch or Martin Truex Jr, the day ended in fire and smoke at the beginning of the final stage.
Throughout the restarts, Busch and Truex were playing the teammate game on restarts letting the other get ahead momentarily. When the field was exiting the second turn, Truex washed up the track collecting Busch, who was leading the race. Busch dominated the first two stage by winning both stages and leading 87 laps.
Both cars suffered heavy damage after hitting the wall.
Busch expressed his frustration with another weekend being lost by dumb mistakes.
“I guess we could have continued to play the teammate game and try to settle it on a green flag pit stop, but he could be that much faster than me and yard me by three seconds on a run with the clean air then I would never be able to get the opportunity to pass him back even if we had to settle it on a pit stop,” said Busch. “That’s the way it goes, just chalk it up to another one that we figure out how to lose these things by. It’s very frustrating and I hate it for my guys, they build such fast Toyota Camrys and the Skittles Camry was really good again today. Had wanted to go out there and put ourselves in the record books for three in a row, but not happening.”
“I just got loose and wrecked him (Kyle Busch) I guess, totally my fault. Didn’t really know what to expect in that position and didn’t really realize that he was going to drive in that deep and suck me around. I will take the blame for that and obviously it was my fault,” said Truex. “I hate it for Kyle (Busch), he had a great car and we did as well, but that’s racing. Glad I was able to get out, fire was bad. I had no brakes and I had to run into the wall a second time just to get it to stop so I could get out. Fortunately I’m okay and we’ll live to race another day.”
Busch could have went for history this weekend at Indianapolis by becoming the first driver to win three in a row at famous speedway in NASCAR. Busch’s level of disappointment is a 10 out of a 10.
Busch was accredited with a 34th place finish while Truex is accredited with a 33rd place finish.
Larson Fails Post-Qualifying Inspection, Truex on Pole
Despite earning the pole position, Kyle Larson will start from the rear of the field in the Overton’s 301 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
During post-qualifying inspection, NASCAR found the car to have an unapproved rear deck fin lid. Larson’s time was disallowed. Martin Truex Jr. will start from the pole.
According to NASCAR, the rear deck fin lid passed pre-qualifying inspection, but was considered out of spec in post-race qualifying. The rear deck fin lid was found to have been moved lower during qualifying. The part is not designed to adjust, but NASCAR found that the part was made to adjust.
"Not the way we wanted to get our first pole of the year, but looking forward to starting up front and getting a good pit stall,” said Truex. This will be his first pole of the season. Truex posted a speed of 133.077 mph.
Truex will start from the pole. Jimmie Johnson will start second, Matt Kenseth will start third, Jamie McMurray will start fourth, and Kasey Kahne will round out the top-five.
There will be no further penalties for Larson’s team.
Truex Not Concerned About Furniture Row's 2018 Plans
With the announcement of Erik Jones returning to Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in 2017, the future of Furniture Row Racing (FRR) remaining a two-car organization came into question.
The announcement of Jones leaving FRR was expedited after Matt Kenseth made comments last weekend at Kentucky Speedway that he would not be returning to JGR in 2018.
Currently, Jones pilots the No. 77 Toyota for FRR. The car number currently has a charter, purchased from Premium Motorsports over the 2016 offseason.
“It was exciting going to two cars and I know it was something that Barney has thought about and talked about for a long time and I know his plans originally were not for this team to be a one year deal,” said Truex Jr. about the organization moving to a two car organization in 2017.
Truex has seen improvements in the young team throughout the season. Being the veteran driver, Truex has seen the benefits of having a teammate like Jones.
“I’ve enjoyed working with Erik (Jones). He’s been a good teammate. He’s a great kid. Love talking to him and hearing his point of view and things, so it would have been nice to have him for a couple years,” Truex stated. “That program I feel like just keeps getting stronger each and every week and they had a good run last weekend and it’s a shame to see that happen that quickly
Reiterating what he said at Kentucky, Barney Visser, team owner, released a statement about the future of FRR being a two car organization.
"We are working on our team plans for 2018 but don't have anything concrete to report at this time except that Martin Truex Jr. will continue to drive the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota,” Visser stated.
Despite 2018 plans being up in the air, Truex Jr. doesn’t believe the organization would change if they went back to a one car organization. Truex believes the strongest part of the team is that everybody know what they are doing really well.
“We’ve got a really, really tight group of guys that have done a good job working together over the last few year and have a lot of trust and confidence in each other and I think one of the strongest parts of our team is just everybody doing their own jobs and understanding what they are and doing them really well, so I don’t see anything changing,” said Truex.
Despite the uncertain future for a two car organization. Truex is leaving those issues to Visser and Joe Garone, FRR team president.
“I’ll leave that up to Barney (Visser, team owner) and Joe (Garone, team president) and everybody that runs the show,” said Truex.
Truex has scaled to 28 playoff points over the 2017 season. He has three wins, six top-fives, and 12 top-10 finishes. He has lead 1,115 laps.
In his inaugural season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Jones has one top-five, five top-10’s, and has led 31 laps.
Truex Jr. Dominates At Kentucky
SPARTA, Ky-- In dominating fashion and battling NASCAR Overtime, Martin Truex Jr. was victorious in the Quaker State 400 from Kentucky Speedway. Truex led a total of 152 laps.
“I thought we were dead. I thought we were done. It’s just – this is completely unbelievable. I’m so excited to win here. It felt like we had a shot last year and it got away from us on fuel mileage and just wanted to win here so so bad after that. This is sweet redemption," said Truex Jr. "I got to say hi to Sherry (Pollex) back home. She didn’t make it this weekend, so I love you babe. And all these awesome fans, thank you guys so much for coming out. What an awesome crowd. I hope they enjoyed it and that was a whole lot of fun. “
This is Truex Jr's 10th career win. This is his third career win of 2017. He scores his 12th stage win of the season.
After starting in the back of the field due to inspection issues in qualifying and receiving a penalty on pit road in the early stages of the race, Kyle Larson finished second.
“Yeah, I sped on pit road there early. At the end of that first stage, so it felt very similar to Texas earlier this year. Didn’t get to qualify, had a pit road penalty at the end of the first stage. Went from the back to the front and then we had scuffs on one run and got the balance off pretty bad, but were able to put stickers on and charge back to the front. The Target Chevy was good," said Larson. "Truex though, never got to see him that last run he was upwards of 15 seconds ahead of us. That was pretty crazy. He has definitely been the fastest car all year. So, got some work to do, but if we can keep chasing him, I think we can beat him.”
Chase Elliott finished third after being a silent contender for much of the race.
"I had a really good roll there. Got to the bottom of the No. 77 and got far enough up next to him to get underneath him into (Turn) 1 and that got us a couple more spots there which was nice. From where we started the night to where we ended up was a big improvement with our Napa Chevrolet," said Elliott "Happy we could just execute well tonight. I don’t think we were as good at Martin (Truex, Jr.) or Kyle (Larson), but we did our jobs on pit road and I made the most of a good car.”
Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-10.
Only nine drivers finished on the lead lap. There were 10 lead changes among four different drivers. There were nine cautions for 39 laps. The time of race was two hours, 57 minutes, and 55 seconds. The average speed was 138.604 mph.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Overton's 301. The race will be broadcasted on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network at 3:00 p.m EDT.