Truex wins two stages, but bad luck denies him the big prize

DOVER, DE - JUNE 04: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, races during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway on June 4, 2017 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

DOVER, Del. –  Martin Truex Jr. thought he had used up all of his bad luck – until he found himself on the wrong side of a caution on Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Truex led 102 laps at his home track in the AAA 400 Drive for Autism and fought Kyle Larson for the top spot throughout the afternoon. But Truex brought his No. 78 Furniture Row racing Toyota to pit road on Lap 325 – and paid the price through no fault of his own.

Eventual winner Jimmie Johnson stayed on the track hoping for a caution and got one on Lap 330 when Regan Smith’s Ford slammed into the Turn 2 wall. The caution temporarily put Truex a lap down, but he took a wave-around after Johnson led the cars that still needed service to pit road on Lap 332.

Truex was mired in traffic at that point and fought his way back to third, but couldn’t make progress from the second row on an overtime restart before the race ended abruptly with a wreck on the backstretch froze the field with Johnson in the lead, Larson second and Truex third.

It wasn’t an empty day for Truex, however. He won both the first and second 120-lap stages and increased his series-leading playoff point total to 18.

“For us, the ending of the race was really all about trying to pass cars and get back to the front where we’d been all day long,” Truex said. “We got caught on that caution there with, I don’t know, 60 or so laps to go and we pitted. Caution came out, got trapped a lap down, had to do the wave around and then drive up through the field from the back.

“Definitely proud of our finish today. I thought we definitely had a shot at the win until that happened, and after we were kind of playing catch up. At a place that’s really difficult to pass, we had to come from about 15th to get to third. Definitely proud of the run, proud of the effort and the car the guys brought here today. Wish we could have had a little better shot at it towards the end there, but all in all, third is a decent day with two stage wins.”

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