When the bumping and banging ended and the smoke cleared a level-headed Martin Truex Jr. crossed the finish line in second place. It was his best result in 24 career starts at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway short track.
Truex, who has seven wins this season, did have a shot at passing race winner Kyle Busch on the final lap, but his clean style of racing prevented him from purposely knocking Busch out of the way.
When asked by media if he even thought about taking out Busch for the victory, Truex didn’t hesitate. “Never crossed my mind, that’s not my style of racing. I saw a hole there and almost got by him cleanly. Our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota wasn’t that great today, but we accomplished our mission. We knew this was going to be a difficult track for us, and to come away second and have decent finishes in the first two stages (5th & 4th) turned out to be a good points day.”
Truex qualified second and ran the majority of the 500-scheduled lap race between fourth and sixth place. It wasn’t until the race went into a green-white-checkered overtime finish when Truex’s savvy driving pushed his No. 78 Camry to the front.
While Kyle Busch advanced to the Championship 4 Round with the victory, Truex increased his cushion in the point standings. With two races remaining in the Round of 8, Truex has a 67-point lead over the fifth place driver.
“Until a NASCAR official tells me we have mathematically clinched a final-four berth we aren’t taking anything for granted,” stated Truex. “This is racing and a lot of strange things can happen.”
Truex has had an incredible run so far in the playoffs. Take away the multicar accident he was involved in at Talladega Superspeedway, his average finish in the other six playoff races is 2.33. In those six races he has scored three wins, a second, fourth and fifth.
Finishing positions 3-10 went to: Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Trevor Bayne, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The race had 11 cautions for 74 laps and there were 16 lead changes among six drivers.
The next race is Sunday, Nov. 5 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.