RICHMOND, Va. – Martin Truex Jr. cradled the trophy he earned as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular-season champion, but his mind was elsewhere.
Truex was still bitter about the chain of circumstances that deprived him of a likely victory in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 and ended his night with a crash into the Turn 1 wall.
Truex was leading by more than two seconds when the No. 15 Chevrolet of Derrike Cope scraped the outside wall on lap 397 of a scheduled 400, causing the sixth and final caution of the night.
Truex led the field to pit road but came out second behind Kyle Larson, and after Larson took the lead on an overtime restart on Lap 403, Truex slammed into the Turn 1 wall on the final lap after contact from Denny Hamlin’s Toyota.
Truex didn’t mince words.
“The final caution, I really don’t know what it was for,” he said. “I haven’t seen it. I just know it was the 15 car, who was 20 some laps down (actually 16). I don’t even think he makes minimum speed, and really doesn’t even belong out there. I don’t know if he apparently scraped the wall a few times, and I don’t know, couldn’t stay in the race track as slow as he was going.
No wonder the regular-season trophy presentation was bittersweet for Truex, who locked up the title last Sunday at Darlington.
“I wish they’d given me the trophy last week,” Truex said.