An eighth-place run may seem decent for a driver of Martin Truex Jr.’s stature, but not this week.
Bristol Motor Speedway has been a tough one for Truex in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. He hadn’t grabbed a win, had no laps led since 2013 and no top 10s since 2012.
Two of those streaks came to end in Monday’s Food City 500, as Truex stormed to the front, leading 116 laps before finishing eighth.
“A great day,” Truex said. “To come to Bristol and run that good is a good sign for us. We’ve had some strong cars here the last few times and no finishes to show for it. Fortunately, today we got a decent finish — not as good as we should have.”
With rookie Furniture Row Racing teammate Erik Jones running top five throughout the race, the two-car organization had its best overall race of the season… until the final quarter.
Jones’ strong run came to a crashing end when he wrecked with 78 to go. The issues soon found Truex, who sped on pit road with 35 laps to go.
“We haven’t had a whole lot of speeding penalties the last couple years,” he said. “Just bad timing to get one today.”
Truex was toe-to-toe with Kyle Larson, who led 202 laps on the day. Additionally, race winner Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer were all in Truex’s wake for most of the day. By the end, however, Truex finished behind them despite the VHT bottom groove.
“I felt like we were getting a touch better than [Johnson] was,” he said. “I wish we could’ve raced until the end but those are the breaks. That’s how racing goes.
“In a perfect world, we would make the top slower, keep the VHT off the bottom. For now, I though it was good. We just have to make it last longer.”