Martin Truex Jr. earned a hard-fought fourth-place finish as he continued his playoff consistency Sunday in the Apache Warrior 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Truex, who started from the pole and led three times for 51 laps in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, had some handling issues that prevented him from chasing down the leader.
“We were off a bit today,” said Truex. “The short-run, long-run speed weren’t quite there and the balance of the Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota shifted way too much. I thought maybe we should have been second or third, but that last run just really went away on us. It is what it is. When you run fourth and you’re disappointed it shows what your team is made of. Proud of everyone, they did a good job all weekend.”
The good news for Truex is that he enters the next round of the playoffs first in points – 3059, an 18-point lead over second place Kyle Busch. The three playoff races in the Round of 12 will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Oct. 8), Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 15) and Kansas Speedway (Oct. 22). The top eight drivers will advance to the next round. (see points standings below)
Truex completed the first round of the playoffs with a 3.3 finishing average, the best finishing average among the 16 playoff drivers. His fourth-place Dover finish was preceded with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 17) and a fifth in New Hampshire (Sept. 24).
“I am looking forward to the next round and feel good about where this Furniture Row Racing team is at right now,” said Truex, a five-time winner on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit this season. “We just need to maintain our consistency.”
The Apache Warrior 400 winner was Kyle Busch. Rounding out the top 10 were: Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Truex, Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Daniel Suarez, Jamie McMurray and Brad Keselowski.
The race had four cautions for 24 laps plus a red flag for nearly 16 minutes. There were 15 lead changes among six drivers.