Pit road speeding penalty costly to Truex, too

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 24: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 24, 2017 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Tenn. – No one at Bristol could run the bottom of the track better than Martin Truex Jr., who led 116 laps in Monday’s rain-delayed Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Truex lost some of his advantage when the potency of the VHT track sealer, which added grip to the bottom lane, began to fade as the race progressed. But the real whammy for Truex was a penalty for speeding on pit road incurred under the final caution on Lap 465.

Truex had been battling race winner Jimmie Johnson for the lead before the infraction, but the No. 78 Toyota lost any chance for the victory after being sent to the back of the field for a restart on Lap 468.

“We were going for it, you know?” Truex said. “Wish we could have had a shot there just to see if we could have won. This is the best run we’ve had here in a long time. It’s bittersweet. I wish we could have seen if we could have beat the 48 (Johnson). We were close there before that last caution, but it is what it is, and you try to get what you can get, and sometimes you cross the line, and today we crossed the line.

“All in all, it was an awesome day and a lot of fun. Had the VHT not worn out quite as bad, then we would have really killed them. The top lane came in, and some guys could run that better than I could, but overall it was a good day and a lot of fun all day.”