There was a time when Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. could seemingly do no wrong. The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion has dominated in races and has been the driver to beat in many.
But he has never won on a track shorter than a mile. That adds up to 75 short track starts.
Saturday it appeared that he would change all that in his career 450th start. After winning his first Richmond pole, Truex led a race high 121 laps. He seemed to be one of three contenders for the win alongside Joey Logano and Kyle Busch.
He faded a bit before the hallway point, but late in the going he radioed his crew chief Cole Pearn to tell him, “I don’t know what adjustments you made but the car is a lot better.”
It all came apart in the final 10 laps.
While running second, Truex joined the rest of the leaders on pit road. During the stop, problems with the jack lost the crew 4 seconds on the stop and put Truex back out in 11th place.
He would make up three of those spots and on the race’s final caution with three laps to go the team elected to get fresh tires. That gamble failed as none of the other leaders pitted.
That left Truex in 14th, and frustrated, after it was over.
“Tonight we beat ourselves, so that’s unfortunate,” said Truex. “Pretty disappointed that we didn’t get at least a chance. I don’t know what we have to do to win at one of these short tracks and get everything to go the way we need it to.”
“The guys did a really good job with the race car,” he added. “We were awful at the start of the race and I thought we were really in trouble. Just fought all night long and tried to stick with it and make good adjustments, and put ourselves in position to try to win another one and just came up short. Frustrated, but proud of everyone for the effort and hopefully we’ll get them next week (at Talladega).”