LONG POND, Pa. – The ramifications of Martin Truex Jr.’s collision with Kyle Busch as the two drivers battled for the lead last Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, produced ramifications that extended well beyond the race.
After the wreck, which Truex triggered when his No. 78 Toyota got loose beneath Busch’s no. 18 Camry, Truex’s tire changers Chris Taylor (front) and Lee Cunningham (rear) were involved in a heated confrontation with Busch’s crew chief, Adam Stevens, who strode into the No. 78 pit area after receiving taunts from the rival crewmen.
Just one problem. The No. 78 crew is actually assembled by Joe Gibbs Racing (Busch’s team) and is outsourced to Furniture Row Racing (Truex’s team) as part of the alliance between the two Toyota organizations.
Team owner Joe Gibbs opted to suspend the two tire changers for three races each because they had initiated the controversy. The complication is that Truex is competing against Busch for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, and the suspensions could have a profound effect, Truex believes.
“It’s a tough situation for us to be in – there’s no doubt about that,” Truex told reporters after a FanFest appearance at Pocono Raceway on Friday night. “I’m obviously not happy about how it all went down. I’m disappointed that I made a mistake, and it got us kind of in this position. I guess it is what it is, and we’ll deal with it the best we can, and we’ll go forward.”
Making the suspensions all the more costly is the excellence of his crew.
“It’s a big impact when they’re two of the best out there,” Truex said. “Our pit crew has been amazing this year, putting us in position to win multiple races, not making mistakes – they’ve got everything. Those two guys are unbelievable, what they do. We’re obviously at a disadvantage without them.”
Truex hopes, however, that the altercation won’t have a negative effect on the strong working relationship between the two organizations.
“I hope not,” Truex said. “I don’t think so. Again, it’s unfortunate that the mistake I made on the race track caused all this stuff to blow up. I’m proud of our pit crew guys and what they’ve done this year and what they continue to do for us. And like I said, we’ll just get through the next couple weeks as best we can.”