NASCAR Dover Notebook: Third Time Not The Charm For Martin Truex Jr.

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Denny Hamlin (11) and Martin Truex Jr. (78) lead the field to green to start the Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway Sunday (Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Denny Hamlin (11) and Martin Truex Jr. (78) lead the field to green to start the Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway Sunday (Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

DOVER, Del.—For the third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Martin Truex Jr. led the most laps, and for the third straight race he failed to win.

But Truex left Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway not chafing with disappointment missing an opportunity in a potential race-winning car—as had been the case last week at Charlotte—but miffed at fourth-place finisher Kasey Kahne for closing the door on the final restart.

With nowhere to go in the inside lane, Truex finished sixth after leading a race-high 131 laps.

“I was inside him, and he ran me down on the apron,” Truex said. “So I either had to let off or wreck all of us. We had a good car today but it was never right. We were never right yesterday all through practice.

“We made some changes today and we made some gains on it, but never really got it where we needed it. Clean air was huge. When we were out front, we were OK. It just never turned good all day long. It just eventually caught up to us.”

Kahne, understandably, had a different view of the green-white-checkered-flag restart.

“He was back behind me to get a run on me, obviously; the spotter said I was clear, so I just went to the bottom getting into (Turn) 1,” Kahne said. “I think he was a little upset. He gave me a bump after the race. But I don’t know. I didn’t really know what else to do other than to go there with guys on my outside and stuff.

“But we had a pretty good car. We made good adjustments. The guys did a nice job. I wanted more. We had a nice package, but just didn’t pull it off.”
How bad was the handling of Aric Almirola’s car early in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race?

So bad that he twice went a lap down early in the race.

But Almirola also got two “lucky dogs,” free pass to the lead lap as the highest-scored lapped car, and he spent the rest of the race making the most of his second chances, posting a season-best fifth-place finish in his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford.

The critical factor was Almirola’s ability to stay infront of leader Kevin Harvick before a wreck involving Brian Scott and Kyle Busch brought out the fifth caution on Lap 376.

“I earned my money today, that is for sure,” Almirola said. “This Smithfield Ford Fusion was a handful most of the day. It started off extremely tight. (Crew chief) Trent Owens and the guys made really good adjustments on the car, and got it better and better. Finally we weren’t the lucky dog — we raced and stayed on the lead lap, and when the caution came out, we got a chance to restart with the leaders.

“That was the big break for us. Every time we would get the lucky dog I had to start dead last and 30-40-50 laps the leaders were right back on me. It was a great day for us, a really good points day for us. I’m proud of Trent Owens and all the guys at Richard Petty Motorsports. They have been working their guts out trying to bring better cars to the race track week in and week out.”


Kyle Busch’s run toward the top 30 in points suffered a serious setback on Sunday when contact from Brian Scott’s Chevrolet sent Busch’s Toyota into the outside wall in Turn 3 on Lap 376 of a scheduled 400.

Busch was running fourth at the time and made a move to pass Scott on the inside. Unaware the No. 18 Toyota was below him, Scott turned into Busch’s car.

“I apologize to @Kyle Busch, his sponsors, his team, his fans and all of JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing),” Scott posted to his Twitter account after the race. “100% my fault, I didn’t know he was underneath me until 2 late.”

The mea culpa, however, can’t undo the damage to Busch’s hopes of finishing in the top 30 in the standings 13 races hence. Since Busch missed the first 11 races of the season after breaking his right leg and left foot in a Feb. 21 accident at Daytona, he must win one of the next 13 races and finish in the top 30 in points to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

“I guess Brian said his spotter didn’t say anything and he just chopped the corner and I was under him already, and it just sucked me around,” Busch said. “I hate it. I hate it for my guys. Man, we had a really good run going, obviously — we ran in the top-five all day long.

“Just hate it for the Skittles Camry and everybody at M&M Mars. This is a shame. This isn’t what we need, and we weren’t going to win today, but it doesn’t help when you finish 40th.”

Actually, Busch was credited with a 36th-place result, but he leaves Dover 168 points out of 30th place, needing an approximate average of 15th place over the next 13 races to have a realistic shot at the top 30.

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing