CORNELIUS, N.C. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished fifth in Saturday’s Sprint Showdown.
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver started from the pole and finished second in the first of the race’s two 20-lap segments.
Then it was time for the NAPA KNOW HOW pit crew to go to work and change four tires during the mandatory, halfway caution. Truex restarted the second segment in fifth behind the cars that took two or no tires during the stop.
Truex lost several positions in the opening laps then brushed the wall on lap 29. Without a caution, he could not grab one of the two transfer spots and finished fifth.
Only the top two finishers plus the fan vote winner transferred to the All-Star race.
“I never anticipated this happening,” said Truex after the Showdown. “I really thought we were going to race our way into the All Star event. I felt really good about our chances. I am pretty frustrated right now because I don’t understand why we have a tight-handling NAPA Toyota every time we come here. Our car needed four fresh tires and I still stand by that call even though the winner took two tires. Then when we lined up for the final 20 laps, I just got stuck behind some slow cars that stayed out. It was a terrible restart for us. I think had we had a better restart, we would have managed the handling situation and at least stayed in the hunt for a transfer spot. The restart basically killed our chances tonight because the line I was so slow. The line just would not go. I hate this for all the NAPA guys. This is a tough race to sit out. I really wanted to be in the All Star race and have a shot at the $1 million.”
The No. 56 NAPA KNOW HOW crew returns to action Sunday in NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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.