Truex Jr. falls just short in Homestead

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 18: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota, race during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2018 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

On an emotional night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. fell one place short in his bid for a second straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and his attempt to deliver a sterling going-away present to Furniture Row Racing.

Truex had the lead with 12 laps left in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at the 1.5-mile track, but his No. 78 Toyota was no match for Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford over the short run. Logano blew past Truex through Turn 1 on Lap 256 of 267 and beat the defending champ to the finish line by 1.725 seconds.

“It just didn’t play out the way we needed it to,” said Truex, who was in excellent position to track down Kevin Harvick for a possible victory when contact between the cars of Brad Keselowski and Daniel Suarez caused the fifth caution of the race and set up a short run that played into Logano’s hands.

“We were terrible for 10, 15 laps on new tires, and I was able to get a good restart at the end, luckily, and get out front—just I had nothing for him at the end. I needed 15, 20 more laps, and that’s just the way it goes. I’m not sure what else to say.”

Now that the season is over, Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn will move to Joe Gibbs Racing next season. Furniture Row Racing will close its doors, with no primary sponsor to replace 5-hour Energy, which announced in June its departure at season’s end.

“Really proud of everybody on our team for fighting hard this year to get where we were,” Truex said. “Without that last caution, it was in the bag, maybe, I think. We’ll see. But it hurts a little, and I’m going to miss all the guys and had a hell of a five years with this team.

“So just proud of them, and we’re going to celebrate no matter what tonight.”

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.