Martin Truex, Jr., has lost races in a wide range of ways over the last two seasons. Yet somehow the three-time Sprint Cup Series winner found yet another way to lose in Saturday’s Quaker State 400.
After trading the lead with Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski throughout the night, Truex found himself in second coming to pit road during the race’s final caution.
At the end of the pit road sequence, it appeared Truex’s No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team has secured the New Jersey native the top spot. That position was quickly lost as Truex was issued a penalty from NASCAR for passing on the left- lane on pit road.
“Everybody does it,” Truex said of the move. “I’ve had people pass me the same way at Bristol and Martinsville. They get to their timing line and they just drive right by you to their pit. Everybody does it, so I don’t know why they made an example out of me.”
Scott Miller, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, defended the decision to penalize Truex after the race.
“I didn’t expect him to be happy, but you can’t pass on pit road,” said Miller. “If you do pass on pit road, it specifically says it has to be on the right when somebody is peeling off into their box.”
After restarting at the tail of the field, Truex rallied to rise to third before being forced to pit road for fuel in the race’s closing laps. The Toyota driver would ultimately finished 10th as teams ahead of him conserved enough fuel to make it to the finish.
“It wasn’t my night on that deal,” Truex said. “It’s frustrating, we had the car to beat. I felt like if we didn’t get (Harvick) on that pit stop, we weren’t going to be able to pass him under green. “We came out with the lead and they took it away from us, so that’s just the way it goes I guess.”
Asked if there were any positives to take from running so well on another 1.5-mile oval, Truex again referred to his frustration.
“Fifth-straight time,” Truex said, referencing how many 1.5-mile races he felt he’d had a car capable of winning. “Texas, Kansas, Charlotte, Here… I mean, it’s awesome to run good., but it’s frustrating when you don’t win. I feel like I’ve had a lot of them not go the right way for the last couple years especially.
“It is what it is. We’ll move on. The guys are building fast race cars – I can’t deny them that – and we’re working well together, so we’ll just keep digging.”
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