It didn’t take long before the ultimate wild-card track ate up a championship favorite.
Shortly following the opening round of pit stops in Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, pole winner Martin Truex, Jr. suffered a blown motor, forcing the No. 78 driver to bring it to the garage on Lap 41.
“I felt like we had a team capable of competing for the championship,” a heartbroken Truex said. “Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to show that. I guess there is still a chance for a miracle, but I don’t see that happening.”
Calling the issue “disappointing”, Truex first thought the issue may have come from his tires, before the vibration quickly escalated and the smoke started to exit his Furniture Row Racing Toyota. His Chase hopes take a massive blow, as he must rely on multiple Chase drivers to have issues if he wants to advance to the Round of 8.
“I originally thought it was the tires,” he said. “I slowed down into pit road and I felt the vibration was from the engine. I knew we were in trouble.”
Winning a career-high four races in 2016, including two Chase races, Truex will keep his eyes set on the remaining races of the season.
“Damn, it just hurts to go out like that,” he said. “We could’ve raced all day, got in a big wreck and still not made it. There’s not telling. But it sure would’ve been nice to find out. At least play the whole game. To barely make it to the first pit stop, it stings.
“Some things you just can’t explain. TRD has done a great job with out engines all year long. Our plate engines have been great, no failures. I’m sure it was a part failure under unforeseen circumstances.
“This is going to make us stronger. We still have four races we can go out and win.”