BRISTOL, Tenn. –The No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota left Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday with some minor scrapes and a 12th-place finish. It wasn’t bad considering it was a little disappointing for driver Martin Truex Jr. The top-15 finish enabled the NAPA team to move up four positions in the championship points standings to 20th place, just 93 points out of the top 10.
“We had a decent car all day,” said Truex who lined up 19th for the Food City 500. “We really just struggled with being tight in the center and we never could quite get it fixed. We were hanging out between eighth and 12th pretty much all day. The second-to-the-last stop, we made an adjustment trying to go for it and it was the wrong way. It killed us. We lost and fell back to I don’t know, 14th or somewhere deep in the teens. So to come back to 12th with that last adjustment, I am happy. We just needed a little more time. The NAPA car was actually really good at the end. I am a little frustrated about it, but 12th is not a bad day. We’ll take it.”
During the entire Food City 500, the NAPA AUTO PARTS team battled a car that would not turn in the center. Despite the challenge, Truex was turning lap times as fast, if not faster, than the leader by lap 100. Crew Chief Pat Tryson used several cautions (laps 117, 206 and 265) to make adjustments to the No. 56 NAPA Toyota. Small air pressure and wedge changes were in the mix. During the first half of the event, Truex ran as high as eighth and as low as 19th.
The team experienced a close call on lap 342 when Mark Martin and Greg Biffle got together in Turn 2. It caused several cars to try and take evasive action. Jeff Gordon tried to maneuver his way out of trouble but hit Truex’s door sending the NAPA Toyota into the wall. Fortunately, the contact with the wall only caused cosmetic damaged to the No. 56. Tryson opted to keep his driver out during the caution. Meanwhile, Truex’s teammate Marcos Ambrose was not as lucky. He sustained major damage to his No. 47 Toyota and was forced to go behind the wall for repairs. When the race restarted on lap 358, he was in eighth position and Kurt Busch was the leader.
Another caution was thrown on lap 390 for rain. Truex thought his NAPA Toyota was getting better, but it still needed to turn more in the center. Tryson opted for a track bar adjustment along with air pressure when the team pitted on lap 392. Truex returned to the track in 13th while several cars, including the new leader Brad Keselowski, opted to stay out in case Mother Nature forced the race to be called. The gamble on weather did not play out as the green flag once again waved on lap 411. It was not long until Truex told his crew chief that the car did not respond well to the changes as it would not turn at all and lost forward bite. The NAPA Toyota dropped to 17th position before the final caution for debris was thrown on lap 482.
The team’s final stop enabled Truex to leave pit road with a gain of two positions – 15th and more importantly, Tryson’s adjustments made the No. 56 Toyota come to life in the final 10 laps. When the checkered flag waved, Truex raced his way up to a 12th-place finish in the Food City 500.
“Those changes were awesome,” said Truex over the radio to his team. “Too bad we didn’t have that all day. That was night and day better. Great call on adjustments, Pat!”
Meanwhile with seven laps to go, Jimmie Johnson shocked the field to take the lead and win his third race of the year and 50th of his Sprint Cup career. Following him to the line for top-five finish were Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth.
Truex’s MWR teammate David Reutimann was on the mark for a top-five finish, but suffered a mechanical failure on lap 114 to be relegated to a 38th-place finish. Meanwhile, MWR’s technical alliance with JTG-Daugherty Racing saw Marcos Ambrose finish 33rd after being involved in that multi-car crash.
Food City 500 Unofficial Results:
Unofficial Championship Points Standings:
David Reutimann, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota
What happened that took you out of the race?
“Something broke and we’re done. Really disappointing, but I have to thank Aaron’s and everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing – everybody at Toyota and Toyota Racing Development. They have been building me great motors all year and stuff happens sometimes -- just happened to be our turn today. Disappointing, but what are you going to do? I felt like we had a really good car and this was not the way we wanted to finish. My team did an outstanding job. This was the best thing I ever drove here, by far. I think my mouth hurts from smiling so much – it was just that much fun. We’ll have to do it again next time we come back.” David Reutimann
David Reutimann Race Summary: Tough luck spoiled an outstanding day for David Reutimann and the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine. Reutimann started the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in 10th and quickly moved into the top-five and made a pass of pole winner Joey Logano by lap 75. By lap 108, Reutimann made a pass on eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson for second place and had his sights set on the leader Kurt Busch. Then on lap 114, while gaining on leader Busch, Reutimann radioed to say something under the hood broke. Reutimann brought the No. 00 to pit road where it was determined the damage was too great to continue. The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine retired behind the wall for the remainder of the race and a 38th-place finish. Crew Chief Rodney Childers told Reutimann “you would have won this race today.”
Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry - Finished 12th - now 20th in points.
David Reutimann, No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry - Finished 38th - now 24th in points.