There were no high-fives or pats on the back by Furniture Row Racing after Martin Truex Jr. clinched a spot in the Final Four as a result of finishing second in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
But there was an expected sigh of relief for the Denver, Colo.-based team, which will compete for the season championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 19.
It will be Truex’s second time as a Final Four participant. He also accomplished the feat in 2015.
Truex is one of three drivers locked into the Final four. He joins Kyle Busch and Sunday’s race winner Kevin Harvick. The final participant will determined in Phoenix next week (Sunday Nov. 12).
The NASCAR Cup Series champion will be determined at Homestead with the driver having the best finish among the four finalists.
The 334-lap AAA Texas 500 was a mixture of emotions for the No. 78 team. Truex, who led a race high of 107 laps, lost the lead to Harvick with 10 laps remaining on the 1.5-mile track. Before losing the lead, Truex led 37 consecutive laps.
“The Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota got loose in the final run and we just couldn’t hold off the No. 4 (Harvick),” said Truex. “But on the good side of things, we did what we had to do to compete for the season title at Homestead in two weeks. I am really proud of this team, the guys on the road and all the guys back at the shop in Denver for building fast race cars.”
Regarding the final run of 47 laps, Truex said, “On the long runs I would get really loose getting into the corners. As the run went on, I would get looser and looser. Wasn’t much I could do about it. I could hold my own in clean air, but as soon as I caught lapped cars, I would get loose in the corner. He (Harvick) got to my outside and was just faster at the end. Once he got in front of us he was just gone. Nothing I could do. Just one of those deals where he was quicker.”
The Texas result was the second straight runner-up result for Truex, who also finished second last week in Martinsville, Va. Take away the Talladega playoff race where Truex was involved in multicar accident, his average finish in the other seven playoff races is 2.28. He has had three wins, two runners-up, a fourth and a fifth.
The Texas result was also Truex’s 17th top-five and 24th top-10 finish of the season. And going into Phoenix, he continues to lead the point standings.
The race had 27 lead changes among 13 drivers. There were eight cautions for 40 laps and one red flag for 10 minutes.