For the driver who had won the last two races at Chicagoland, the odds seemed to be in reigning NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex Jr.’s favor heading into the weekend.
That was until Saturday. After qualifying, owing to the fact that the race was an impound one, NASCAR conducted a post qualifying inspection that took the place of the normal pre-race inspection.
It did not go well for Truex. His car was one of four that failed twice meaning that his qualifying time (12th) was erased, and he would be forced to start in the back of the field Sunday (36th).
Sunday that didn’t seem to be too big an issue for Truex who charged his way forward and was inside the top 10 by Lap 22.
The undoing came not on the track, but in the pits. The penalty from Saturday night also meant the team had no choice of pit stall and that left Truex trapped in the pits several times. Each time he would rally back getting as high as third at one point. The final time he ran out of laps and left Chicago without leading a lap and with a fourth-place finish.
“Up and down for sure,” Truex said. “Starting in the back and we overcame that pretty quickly, really. Our pit stall was awful. I feel bad for the 42 (Larson). To pit behind us and there is nothing we could have done about it. That rule where NASCAR picks your pit stall for you, it hurts the 42. It hurts us just as much. All in all we battled here today with track position and we were a fourth-place car and that’s where we finished so it was a good day.”