Considering all the issues that Martin Truex Jr. had to deal with he still managed to bring home a solid fourth-place finish under extremely hot and humid conditions Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.
It was the 11th top-five finish of the season for the Furniture Row Racing driver, who moved from fifth to fourth in the overall NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings. Truex still remains third in playoff points, thanks to three wins after the first 17 races.
Truex’s problems actually started Saturday evening when the team was assessed a post-qualifying infraction. The penalty levied by NASCAR was for Truex to start the race at the rear of the field (36th), wiping out his 12th-place qualifying effort.
Not only did the penalty affect Truex’s starting position it also gave the team an unenviable pit stall to work from during the 267-lap race.
But typical of the Denver-based team, Truex roared to the front of the field in a short time, picking up 12 spots on the first lap and making it into the top 10 by Lap 22.
After putting himself in the top 10, Truex’s No. 78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota was basically a top-five car for the remainder of the race. He finished third in the first stage and fourth in the second.
“Up and down day for sure,” said Truex, who was seeking his third straight win at Chicagoland. “Starting in the back and we overcame that pretty quickly. I thought we were going to have something for these guys. But we lost it in the second and third run. The car just got tighter throughout the day. Our pit stall was awful and we got that spot by default. All in all we battled here today with track position and we were a fourth-place car and that’s where we finished so it was a good day.”
Because of the team’s pit stall location and the cars positioned in front and back of him, Truex got boxed in a couple of times, losing valuable track position on the 1.5-mile oval. But each time he fought his way back to the front.
The race winner was Kyle Busch. Rounding out the top 10 were: Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Truex, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Alex Bowman.
The race had five cautions for 23 laps and there were 24 lead changes among 10 drivers.
The next race is Saturday night July 7 at Daytona International Speedway.