Just when Martin Truex Jr. took the lead from Brad Keselowski and appeared to be pulling away following the final restart on Lap 317 of 334, the Furniture Row Racing driver was struck with a double whammy as he fell to an eighth-place finish Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
The two culprits that prevented Truex the opportunity from scoring the Sprint Cup victory were a loose right-front wheel and the loss of power steering. The pair of incidents were not related to each other.
"It's a shame we let this slip away, but on the other hand I guess it could have been worse," said Truex. "Once the right-front wheel started to shake I realized I had a serious problem. And then the power steering went away. At that point I just wanted to hang on and get the car to the checkered flag. I had to conserve at the end, running about 70 percent just to make sure we got to the finish line with all the wheels on the car and not lose a whole bunch of points."
Speaking of points Truex remains in the Chase playoff hunt to be one of the four drivers advancing to the championship round Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He is in fourth place in the Chase standings with one race remaining in the current eliminator round. He is four points out of second, three from third and has a seven-point cushion over fifth.
"We're still in good shape but it sure would have been nice to have those five or six points that we lost, " said Truex, who recorded his 22nd top-10 of the season. "Nobody said this was going to be easy, it's all going to come down on who can perform and survive Phoenix next week. We feel good about Phoenix -- we had a good test there recently."
Truex, who started 23rd, didn't take long to show the muscle of his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet. He vaulted into the top-10 by Lap 18 and into the top five on Lap 22. He basically stayed in the top-five until those closing laps when he had to nurse an injured race car.
"We had a really fast car all day," said Truex. "We didn't qualify well and not having any practice on Saturday (due to a wet track) was a little bit of a concern. But our crew chief (Cole Pearn) and his talented staff of engineers rose to the challenge and once again gave me a competitive car. We had a shot to win."