Martin Truex Jr. was somewhat of a long shot coming into Martinsville. He entered the final race of the Round 8 seventh in the standings 36 points below the cutoff line. He knew he would need nothing short of a win to advance into the Championship 4.
He nearly pulled it off.
He certainly had the confidence. In the last two outings at Martinsville in June and last fall, Truex came out with the win. Truex led the second most laps on the day, 129, and was chasing eventual winner Chase Elliott who took the lead with 41 laps to go.
During pit stops during the races final caution left Truex with a loose wheel. A vibration began to get worse and 25 laps from the end he was forced to the pits ending his hopes for a race and his title run. Truex finished 17th, as Elliott cruised to victory.
“We had a great car all day long and just kept making adjustments waiting for it to cool off and get dark,” Truex said. “That last run there before the final pit stop, the thing was on rails and it was perfect and we were driving away. I felt really good about it.
“Then we pitted and had a pretty good pit stop. Came out with the lead and right away I knew something was wrong. I was really, really tight and had a vibration. The 9 (Chase Elliott) car passed us and we started dropping and had to pit for a loose wheel. Unfortunate. I think we should be the one in victory lane right now, but you have to do it all. Just a little mistake there.”
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