CORNELIUS, N.C. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished third in Sunday’s 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. The strong performance from Truex at Michigan was enough to get the NAPA driver back in contention for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“We fought hard today,” said Truex. “We fought hard all weekend really. We had a good car on Friday and didn’t qualify as well as we wanted to and then yesterday we struggled quite a bit. We made quite a few changes for today. I just have to thank Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and all the guys on the NAPA Toyota — they did a phenomenal job. We were really strong in the long runs today. It just took us too long to get going. Overall it was a great day — after the last two weeks we’ve had we really needed this. Hopefully, we will just keep this going and see where it takes us.”
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver lined up 13th and quickly drove into the top five by lap 26. By halfway, Truex raced in 10th despite losing track position on a restart when the leader spun his tires. He was able to return to the top five after a quick pit stop on lap 105 and appeared ready to battle for the victory.
With just 30 laps to go, Truex restarted the race in second but lost some ground when he went door-to-door with Jimmie Johnson. Then with 10 laps to go, Truex made another charge as his NAPA Toyota turned the fastest times of all the cars on track to close in on Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick. Unfortunately, he simply ran out of laps.
Truex’s top-five finish marks the team’s third top-five finish in 2013 and 27th of Truex’s career. The finish also moves Truex to a tie for 13th in the standings and just 12 markers out of the top 10.
The No. 56 NAPA KNOW HOW crew will race in the first road-course race of the season Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. Cheer on Martin Truex Jr. at the track, or watch the action Sunday on TNT at 3:00 p.m. EDT.
Post-Race Q&A with Martin Truex Jr.
Did you expect the car to be this strong following practice yesterday?
“Last night I went to bed and I was like, ‘I don’t know how tomorrow is going to go.’ I was a little nervous this morning, but me and Chad (Johnston, crew chief) worked together really well on the car and we made some changes. Just can’t thank him enough for what he did. He’s done such a good job with the race cars here and the last two weeks were really tough on us. At Dover we had a top-two or three car easily and then here today we were top-five all day long. All in all a good day and we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”
How was the power in your engine today compared to last week?
“It was definitely better than last week, I mean, based on what they told us they were running package‑wise. So yeah, I mean, it was definitely better than last week. It wasn’t quite back to what we had a few weeks ago at Dover, but again, they’re working on that, and hoping to have back what we had there by the next two weeks, I believe not Sonoma but I believe the race after that. Today we felt fine. We were very competitive horsepower‑wise, and all that was good.”
Nick Palermo is a freelance automotive writer and NAPA Know How blogger. Since becoming an auto news and reviews contributor at AutoTrader.com in 2011, he has broadened his coverage of the automotive industry to include topics like new car technology, antiques and classics, DIY maintenance and repair, industry news and motorsports. A committed advocate for automotive media professionals, Nick is a member of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.