Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Continually Fast But Foiled: The Martin Truex Jr. Story
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Kansas Speedway continues to be Martin Truex Jr.’s kryptonite.
In his last two spring trips to the 1.5-mile facility, Truex has led one full race, 267 laps. In 16 career starts, he’s led a total of 518. Yet Truex still hasn’t found the way to Victory Lane.
After dominating Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400, Truex had to settle for a 14th place finish after pitting twice inside the final 52 laps because of a loose wheel. The Furniture Row Racing driver had led 172 laps before giving up the lead for what was scheduled to be his final pit stop.
Things initially went as planned, until Truex pulled away and quickly realized something wasn’t right as the car was shaking. He made the decision to return to the attention of his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops Toyota to have all four tires replaced, again.
“I don’t know what the racing Gods have against me,” Truex lamented on the radio after being told something had become jammed behind the wheel. Crew chief Cole Pearn later said it was the head of the bolt that holds the brake plate, which caused the wheel to sit crooked even though all the lug nuts were tight.
“We’ve run the same stuff every week and never have a problem and randomly when you’re leading you get that,” Pearn said. “So, whatever.”
Pearn was in good spirits all things considered; he acknowledged there is no way a team can prevent something like that occurring.
After climbing from his car with Kyle Busch celebrating in the background, the first person to meet Truex was Joe Gibbs. With the alliance between Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row, Gibbs not only felt for Truex but had insight into what had gone wrong.
“I felt so bad about that,” Gibbs said. “We had that one other time. It’s a bolt on the inside that bolts the inside plate, and the head broke off, and when it did, it turned and when it turned it kept the tire from going on.
“I just felt so bad for a teammate like that, and so I stopped there with Martin and explained what happened, and he was great. He said he figured something like that happened. They were, to be quite truthful, they were killing it all night. They were really fast.”
Confident his team will not only get a win but soon, Truex finds himself in the same position he was a year ago – dominant but unlucky. In 2015, he went 14 races before breaking into Victory Lane at Pocono, which surprisingly ended up being his only win of the season.
One day, he said, he’ll be on the reverse side and be the one taking advantage of other’s misfortune.
“It’s no fun to lead all those laps and finish 14th. I wish the race was longer because we were hunting them down, for sure,” Truex said. “It’s hard to give them away, man. It’s hard when you give them away like that.
“It’s hard to get cars to get cars that good in this series and this sport, so we’ll just keep trying. It’s all we can do. It’s a team sport; win and lose as a team. It wasn’t nothing my guys did wrong.”
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