He was the class of the field Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, at least for much of the race. Martin Truex Jr. looked to be in a great spot to score his first win at Loudon starting even on Saturday when he won his second career New Hampshire pole.
Sunday, Truex took off after the green dropped and seemed almost untouchable sweeping both Stages for the 15th time in his career, and leading a Loudon career best, and race high 172 laps.
But it all came apart after pit stops during the race’s ninth and final caution of the day on lap 206 of 301.
Truex dove to pit road followed by the lead group. He took two tires and was first off.
On the restart however, instead of the dominate speed he had earlier in the race, he suddenly started falling back. At one point he nearly spun telling his crew that his Toyota, ‘won’t go at all, it does everything bad.’
From that final pit stop on, Truex was no longer the class of the field. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell meanwhile took four tires on the same stop and won the race.
“Just put on two tires and got in a bad spot on the restart,” he said. “I got put three-wide and the 22 (Joey Logano) didn’t get going and I was on the inside behind him. I tried to shove him to get him going and get us going and (Kevin) Harvick made it three-wide and put us in a bad spot. And just my car was terrible on two tires and couldn’t go anywhere. Just should have put four tires on I guess.”
Kevin Harvick seemed to be the only other car who could keep up with Truex. Harvick said he was sliding around in the closing laps.
“A lot,” he said. “We put two tires on there, which we all thought was the right thing to do, and it just would not get going. We were sliding up the racetrack and it took seven or eight laps to get the car underneath you and then about 20 laps to get the pace back. Then at the end, everybody was just out of tires. “
Harvick said that earlier in the race it wasn’t too hard to pass.
“When the car was handling good, not bad,” he said. “But when everybody was sliding around there it was tough if you were the same speed. We passed a lot of the cars that were worse than us. It just depended on what your handling issues were.”
Harvick would finish fifth, one spot behind Truex in 4th. Like Harvick, Truex was frustrated that a win slipped away.
“We had the car to do it, we just screwed it up,” Truex said. “It’s frustrating and disappointing, but congrats to the 20 (Christopher Bell). Obviously, they were smarter than we were at the end.”
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