FONTANA, Calif. – The opening laps of the California Auto Club 500 presented by NAPA saw Martin Truex climb from 34th to 12th before the team’s first green-flag stop. However, just 64 laps into the event, the No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota suffered an engine failure. Truex, coming off of a top-10 run in the Daytona 500 was relegated to a 39th-place finish. He currently ranks 20th in the championship points standings.
“It’s really unfortunate for the NAPA Toyota,” said Truex. “We had a really good car and had something to build on. My best year ever in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the same thing happened. We went to Fontana and blew up. Hopefully this will be good for us too because we have to look at the silver lining in all of this. The sport is too tough not to.”
The opening laps of the 250-lap event saw Truex tear his way up through the field. By lap 20, he was turning the fastest lap times in 15th position. The driver told his crew chief Pat Tryson that his car needed to turn better without making the car looser. The NAPA Toyota was also tight when Truex was in traffic, but fine when he was all alone.
The team’s first stop came under green-flag conditions on lap 38. Air pressure, four tires and fuel were completed in 13.2 seconds. He returned to the track in 13th position. Then less than 10 laps later, Truex brushed the wall so the driver opted to take it easy until the team’s next service as there were plenty of laps left in the race to make another charge to the front.
A debris caution was thrown on lap 59. Tryson called for a track bar change and another air pressure adjustment. Truex restarted in 24th when the race went back to green on lap 61. Two circuits later, the NAPA Toyota lost power.
“The guys did a good job all weekend,” added Truex. “I am really proud of Pat Tryson. To come from where we did on Friday with the race car was a big, huge improvement. We have something to work with for Las Vegas.”
Winning the California Auto Club 500 presented by NAPA was California native Jimmie Johnson.
As for MWR’s technical alliance with JTG-Daugherty Racing, Marcos Ambrose finished 39th after suffering his second-straight engine failure.
Next week the NAPA team heads to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Shelby American 400. Broadcast coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on FOX. It can also be heard on PRN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING NSCS DRIVER NOTES AND QUOTES:
Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota
MWR Race Results:
David Reutimann, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota - Finished 15th.
Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota - Finished 39th.