Cornelius, NC — No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished ninth in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver started 17th and quickly raced to 10th place by lap 40 giving Michael Waltrip Racing three Toyotas in the top 10.
During the middle stages of the 400-lap event, the NAPA driver recorded top-five lap times but needed track position to get back in contention. The break came on lap 261 when the NAPA KNOW HOW crew pitted for two right-side tires. The strategy moved Truex back into the top 10 and 30 laps later, he drove up to fifth.
With 15 laps to go, the NAPA Toyota pitted one final time for two fresh tires and when the checkered flag waved, Truex crossed the line in ninth. The finish moved him to ninth in the driver standings.
“The whole race was a battle,” said Truex after climbing out of his No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. It was a long night. We were way better than a ninth-place car. We passed a lot of cars tonight, which was very, very hard to do. Not a lot of guys passed cars like we did.
“At the end of the night we just got messed up there on that one restart when we were running third. Everything just played against us tonight — all those restarts that we kept being in the wrong lane and getting shuffled back. Once we finally got shuffled back, the race goes green the rest of the way. We couldn’t gain the spots back that we had lost.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time, the guys did such a good job preparing the race car from last week. Not making the All-Star race really got our butts in gear this week and got Chad (Johnston, crew chief) working on some things. He did an awesome job all weekend. The car was great yesterday in practice. The car was really good all night tonight. We were off here and there, but as much as this track changes to be able to keep up with it the way we did I thought was really good. We just have to get better at the little things and somehow catch a break every once in a while.”
The No. 56 NAPA KNOW HOW crew returns to action Sunday at Dover International 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.