DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Martin Truex Jr. was worried. The same wreck in the Duel that clobbered Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet also crippled Truex’s No. 78.
The Furniture Row team had no choice but to roll out a backup car, but unlike Johnson, Truex got no track time with the replacement on Friday.
Fortunately, a break in the weather allowed him to run laps on Saturday morning to get the feel of the backup car. Truex was elated at the results, and that helped ease the pain of knowing he’ll have to give up his second-place starting position in Sunday’s Daytona 500 and take the green flag from the back of the field.
“I was definitely relieved to get some time in the car,” Truex said after Saturday’s practice. “Honestly, I’m really excited about this race car. Without a shadow of a doubt, this car is better than the one we ran the other night in the qualifying race.
“The Furniture Row guys did another good job. I even hate to call this car a backup because of how good it felt.”
From a viewing aspect, one of the most compelling stories in Sunday’s Daytona 500 will be the speed coming from the rear of the field.
All, told nine cars must drop to the back for the start of the race. Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, Michael Waltrip and David Ragan — all accomplished restrictor-plate race car drivers — went to backup cars after their primary entries were KO’d in the final corner of the second Duel.
Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick and Bobby Labonte also will take the green from the rear because of blown engines and subsequent unapproved engine changes last Saturday.