CORNELIUS, N.C. – No. 56 NAPA Batteries Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 41st in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Daytona International Speedway. A Truex crash on lap 98 ended the driver’s three-week run of top-10 finishes.
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver started fifth — just behind MWR teammate Clint Bowyer and in front of co-owner Michael Waltrip to set up an ideal drafting situation. In four laps Truex raced to second with a Toyota capable of contending for the victory.
By halfway, the NAPA Batteries Toyota competed in 11th with the driver simply keeping up the pace and biding his time. Unfortunately, while racing in eighth on lap 98, Truex was spun out coming out of Turn 4. The damage sustained ended the NAPA team’s race and impressive three-week run that consisted of a victory, two top-five and three top-10 finishes.
“I’m not real sure what happened to be honest with you,” shrugged Truex as he spoke to media outside the infield care center. “I watched the replay — I couldn’t really even tell if he (Denny Hamlin) hit us or not, or if it was just an error. It was strange. It felt like my left rear tire blew out — it happened so fast. So, I’m not sure exactly if I was just in the worst position possible when the 11 (Denny Hamlin) came up on us. You can see before he even touched us I was turning sideways and it was totally unexpected because our car had been really good all night. It definitely never showed any signs of being loose. I think it was just that situation we were in and it just spun it around. I hate it for our guys. We had a good race car. We were just trying to take it easy and bide our time. Obviously, we were riding there and trying to stay in line and take it easy. We definitely needed the finish tonight. This is going to hurt us pretty bad.”
The NAPA team returns to action Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson edged Tony Stewart by 0.107 seconds for the victory. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip rounded out the top-five. Six cautions slowed the race for 27 laps. The race also featured 18 lead changes among 11 drivers.
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.