After taking a clearer look at Martin Truex Jr.’s 14th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway, there were both positives and negatives that came out of the short track race.
Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series finish was Truex’s best result in three years at the troublesome Bristol track, and the 14th-place finish was far better than his previous four Bristol starts as a Furniture Row Racing driver -- 26th & 20th in 2014 and 29th & 28th in 2015.
But the disappointing part for Truex in the 500-lap race was that his contending performance was stymied a couple of times due to pit road issues. Twice he had to return to pit road due to loose lug nuts. The first time was following a caution on Lap 254, which relegated him from fourth to 26th in track position.
Truex tenaciously drove back to the front in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota and when the race restarted following a caution on Lap 408 he was running second and had the fastest car on the track at that point.
Unfortunately his runner-up position at the half-mile, all-concrete oval didn’t last long. On Lap 424 he reported a loose right-front wheel, which forced him to pit road while the race was under green. That incident sent Truex back to 26th and one-lap down.
"Considering what we had to deal with, salvaging a 14th-place finish was not all that bad,” said Truex. "We had another strong Toyota Camry today, but the finish obviously didn’t match the performance. We were contending and had a fast car. But that loose wheel near the end of the race spoiled an excellent opportunity."
Furniture Row Racing crew chief Cole Pearn, who made some strategic calls from the pit box during the closing stages of the race, also shared mixed feelings.
“No question, we were better than our finish,” said Pearn. “Martin did an awesome job all day, and overall it was a good performance weekend. We were also good in qualifying (8th) and during the practice sessions.”
The Food City 500 race winner was Carl Edwards. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Trevor Bayne, Matt DiBenedetto, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano.
The yellow flag waved 15 times for 102 laps and there were 16 lead changes among seven drivers.
The short track schedule continues Sunday (April 24) at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.