CORNELIUS, N.C. – No. 56 NAPA Batteries Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 16th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The disappointing performance for Truex at New Hampshire was relieved somewhat by the success of his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Brian Vickers, who finished with the checkered flag.
“We are so excited for Brian’s victory,” Truex said. “I’ve never seen such a large group of guys work as well together as they do at MWR.”
Truex qualified 20th. In the early stages he battled a tight-handling condition.
Crew chief Chad Johnston elected to take two right-side tires on lap 158 to help gain much needed track position.
The NAPA driver gained seven spots to race in 13th at lap 165 and broke into the top 10 after a fast two-tire service with 100 laps to go.
At lap 219, the NAPA KNOW HOW crew completed a fuel only stop giving Truex just enough fuel to make it to the end and in contention for a top 10. Then with less than 40 laps to go, Truex pitted for fresh tires returning to the track in 23rd. He used the tires to climb up to 16th when the checkered flag waved.
Truex’s teammate Brian Vickers gave MWR its second victory of the season and seventh overall on Sunday. He edged out Kyle Busch by 0.582 seconds for his third career victory and first since 2009.
Jeff Burton, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola rounded out the top-five.
Twelve cautions slowed the race for 58 laps. The race lasted three hours and 14 minutes and featured 10 lead changes among six drivers.
“Our NAPA Batteries Toyota was decent at the start of a run but then the handling would go away,” said Truex. “It felt like I couldn’t do anything out there. My lap times were good according to (crew chief) Chad (Johnston) but I felt like I was holding people up. This track is such a tough place to get a hold of. I’m scratching my head right now figuring out what we need to do when we come back here. It’s so tough. I appreciate my teammate Clint Bowyer working with me. He was a huge help.”
The NAPA team returns to action July 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.