No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished seventh in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway. It was the eighth top-ten finish for the NAPA Team this year, and it moved Truex ahead — from tenth to eighth — in the NASCAR Championship Standings.
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver started 19th in the race postponed from Saturday to Sunday because of rain. The #56 NAPA Toyota wore a special Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund paint scheme for the race.
The NAPA driver dodged a multi-car crash on lap 48 then fell down a lap when a caution flag waved when the NAPA Toyota exited the team’s pit box.
Fortunately, Truex returned to the lead lap on the wave around. Solid restarts helped Truex gain the much-needed ground he lost during the wave around. He drove the NAPA Toyota from 25th to 18th during the lap 94 restart.
At the halfway mark, Truex raced just shy of the top 10 in 11th. He remained near that spot until the final service of the day when the NAPA KNOW HOW pit crew bolted on four tires for the final 16-lap shootout. All of the competitors in front of the NAPA driver took only two fresh Goodyear tires.
The call made by crew chief Chad Johnston paid off. When Truex restarted 14th, he quickly carved his way to seventh and held off hard chargers Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon to score the team’s eighth top-10 of 2013.
“We dodged a lot of bullets today,” said Truex after climbing out of his No. 56 Toyota. “We didn’t have a very good car all day long. Track position was important and we got it a few times and we lost it a few times. One time we pitted and the caution came out. We had to take the wave around. We just could never get the car right today — really loose in and really tight off. The track didn’t seem like it was really any different from the start to the finish. It really never changed. We just never could get the car in the race track and I feel very lucky to finish where we did. We were bad all day, but the one run was really bad and we were seventh or eighth before we put tires on and we tried to make it better and we made it worse and fell back to 18th or 20th or something. Then we had to work our way back and it was difficult. These are the kind of days that we need when we don’t have a good car. We just persevere and fight through it to get a top-10.
“The last stop was going to make or break for us. Everybody took two (tires) and our car wasn’t very good on two so we elected to take four. We were pretty far back on that final restart in 14th. Luckily we had a good restart. We were able to get some spots and then hang onto them at the end.”
Join us to cheer on Martin Truex Jr. and the NAPA AUTO PARTS Team when NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action Saturday night at Daytona 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.