KANSAS CITY, Kan.— Fresh from a second-place finish at Texas, Martin Truex Jr. remained fast during on-track activities leading up to Sunday’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, where Truex was the runner-up in both NASCAR Sprint Cup races last year.
Truex led at Texas when caution slowed the race with 20 laps left. He lost the top spot to race winner Kyle Busch on pit road, but there may have been more to the outcome than merely Busch’s ability to run away in clean air.
A broken left front shock changed the handling of his car and hurt Truex’s performance over the final green-flag run.
“As far as what we can tell, the shock broke in the last 20 laps, because the left front tire drooped out on the pit stop like it was supposed to, and after the race, the left front shock was completely seized up,” Truex said. “They couldn’t move it at all.
“And so it was definitely something that hurt us. I think the last 20 laps of the race was the first time all day I’d been tight. The car didn’t handle like it had all day. It’s like ‘Seriously?’ We get beat off pit road, and the car gets tight out of nowhere.”
To make matters worse, the broken shock led to a low ride height on the left front, which in turn led to a NASCAR penalty. Crew chief Chad Johnston was fined $25,000, and Truex lost six championship points. Johnston also was placed on probation and Michael Waltrip was docked six owner points.
Truex was philosophical when he spoke to the NASCAR Wire Service about the penalty on Friday.
“It is what it is, six points, and we’ll move on and go racing,” Truex said. “I said last week that I’m not worried about points anymore. I’m tired of waking up on Monday morning and looking at points, or Sunday night when I get home. It wears you out.
“So we’re just going to go racing, we’re going to have fun, we’re going to try to win races and try to finish off what we started last week.”
Toward that end, Truex is off to a good start. He qualified seventh on Friday and was sixth and seventh fastest in race trim, respectively, in Saturday’s two Cup practice sessions.