Though he had a fast race car, there were just too many obstacles to overcome for Martin Truex Jr. who finished 14th in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.
Truex’s day took an early hit when he was involved in a spinning accident on Lap 10 of 200. His No. 78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota suffered aerodynamic damage. The incident dropped Truex to 38th in track position, but the reigning NASCAR champion was able to bounce back to finish fifth in the first stage.
The next issue for Truex came when he lost eight spots on a pit stop following the first stage.
A fuel strategy to get Truex back to running up front didn’t work out. Truex led 25 laps during the second stage but was forced to slow down and give up spots to save fuel. Unfortunately, while running in sixth place, he did run out of fuel and was forced to pit as the stage was winding down.
What made matters worse during the pit stop was that the team was penalized a lap for an uncontrolled tire.
With laps running down in the race, Truex was able to pick up a number of spots on the 2-mile oval but could not get back to the top five even though he was posting fast lap times.
“We had a rough day for sure, everything that could go wrong, did,” said Truex who led the second most laps (25). “I think what we can take out of today is that we got the race car a lot better and we had good speed. we were up front there saving fuel and they couldn’t do anything with us until we started saving so much that obviously I had to let them go.”
Truex added, “I passed a lot of cars today and had a good car when we could get some track position. It’s one of those days where we had bad pit stops and nothing just went our way. Getting spun out early really hurt. That damaged the car and that hurt us, but we were able to recover from that and then the fuel situation and being a lap down because of the penalty, it just wasn’t our day. Still to come back to 14th isn’t awful.”
Truex remains third in both driver and playoff points. There are three races remaining before the 10-race playoffs begin.
The race winner was Kevin Harvick. Rounding out the top 10 in order were: Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano.
There were eight cautions for 37 laps and 15 lead changes among nine drivers.
The next Cup race is Saturday, Aug. 18 – Bass Pros Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.