Martin Truex Jr. fought through a clutch problem and a pit road speeding penalty to finish eighth in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Even more good news for the Furniture Row Racing driver was that he finished fourth in each of the first two stages, picking up an extra 14 standing points. Those additional points from the two stage races -- Lap 85 and Lap 170 — helped lift Truex 10 positions from 17th to seventh in the overall Cup standings.
Truex, who started the 325-lap race from the ninth position, was cruising along the abrasive 1.54-mile oval in the top five until he came down pit road for his fourth stop of the day on Lap 173. His No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota stalled on pit road and had to be push started by the crew. That problem continued throughout the race.
“We lost track position every time we pitted and it’s sure hard to make up spots here,” said Truex, who recorded his fifth top-10 finish in the last six races at Atlanta. “But we did the best we could and came away with a respectable finish.
“We needed longer runs because of the clutch problem. Once we got them, our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota was really good. We kept losing spots on pit road because I’d have to shut off the car to pit and then we push started every time and we ended up losing a bunch of spots. With the problems we had, I am really proud of the effort of my guys – everybody all weekend. Just had a few little gremlins here and there and we’ll figure those out and we’ll move on and hopefully have a better car in Vegas.”
Truex was candid about his speeding penalty on Lap 212, which put him a lap down and in 13th position. He also shared his opinion why 13 speeding penalties were called by NASCAR.
“I was too slow coming in and I gave it a little gas to speed up and I just crossed the limit,” explained Truex. “With the timing lines being so close, it’s real easy to jump over and go too fast at the beginning of the section and not catch it at the end because they’re so short. It was a mistake on my part and I’m sure most of the other guys would say the same – just pushing it and trying to get all you can get.”
The QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 race winner was Brad Keselowski. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray.
The race had nine lead changes among five drivers and six cautions for 32 laps.
The next race is the Kobalt 400, Sunday March 12 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.