The Lap 150 wreck that knocked the cars of Playoff drivers Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch out of Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 was more than a minor inconvenience to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leader Martin Truex Jr.
Truex was a little more than a half-mile from picking up his second straight stage win when he saw the cloud of smoke from Harvick’s tires, after the No. 4 slid sideways and collected the Ford of teammate Kurt Busch.
Trying to avoid the accident that blocked the track, Truex spun after contact with Jeffrey Earnhardt’s Chevrolet. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was in close proximity, also spun during the chaos. Trying to extricate himself from the melee, Truex backed into Earnhardt Jr.’s Chevy. Driving forward, Earnhardt then clipped the left rear quarter panel of Truex’s Toyota.
Thanks to the speed in his car and a late two-tire call, however, Truex salvaged a fifth-place finish, but it was hardly a satisfying result for the driver who led 109 of the first 149 laps after winning last week’s Playoff opener at Chicagoland.
“I couldn’t see anything, and I was just approaching the smoke and I’m like, ‘Oh, no, where am I going to go?’ I mean, literally I couldn’t see anything, and my spotter said ‘Go low.’ By then, it was kind of too late and I was already like to the smoke and I couldn’t commit. I just kind of like just kept slowing down and the 33 (Jeffrey Earnhardt) just came by me on the outside and hit me and spun me down through there, so just unfortunate, you know?
“We were coming to the green-white-checkered to win the second stage, which would have been another bonus point, which would be helpful and, of course, you know we had damage and had to fight from the back of the pack the rest of the day, so proud of our effort to run fifth after all that, but it definitely hurt our day.”