MARTINSVILLE, Va. – It was a rather calm 500 laps at Martinsville Speedway for Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota team —until the end. That’s when the NAPA driver’s day turned exciting, and when the race was concluded, the New Jersey native walked out of the Virginia half-mile with a fifth-place finish—the best of his career at the track. The fifth-place result moved Truex up two positions in the championship points standings to 18th.
“Usually we’re on the wrong end of the deal at the end there,” said Truex. “It was a good run for us today. My NAPA Toyota was good all day. We were just solid and ran around the top 10. The guys had awesome pit stops as usual – that helped us a lot. Pat (Tryson, crew chief) did a good job making adjustments on the car and calling the race.”
Truex started the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 in 20th after qualifying was cancelled due to rain. He kept a fast steady pace throughout the early going. The NAPA Toyota had a good balance, but just needed to turn better in the center of the corners. Tryson called his driver in on laps 44, 130 and 164. Air pressure, wedge and track bar changes were made in an impressive pace. The team’s average service took 12.5 seconds.
At the 300-lap mark, Truex said his car was pretty good; he still couldn’t finish the drive through the center. It remained tight. Air pressure was changed under caution on lap 366 in 12.6 seconds. The fast stop moved the driver up two positions on the scoring pylon. When the race restarted on lap 372, he was in eighth place and Hamlin was the leader.
The pit crew’s fastest stop of the race took place during the following service on lap 422 under caution. Air pressure was changed along with bolting on four fresh tires and refueling the car. It took just 11.9 seconds. It moved the No. 56 up two more positions in the standings to seventh place on the restart.
The turning point of the race was when Tryson made the call to bring his driver down pit road during the caution flag on lap 491. While all but one other competitor (Hamlin) opted to stay out in favor of track position, Truex, running in 10th, pitted for four fresh tires. The time on pit road only cost the driver one spot on the track. When the race restarted, he quickly moved up through the field and by lap 498, he was in seventh place.
The final caution of the race put the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 into overtime. When the race went back to green on lap 506, Truex was in sixth and was able to pick up one more position when the checkered flag waved. The four-tire call ended up benefitting both him and Hamlin. Truex was able to score his first top-five finish of the season and his best result at the half-mile track. Hamlin went on to win the event.
“At the end, we were right where we needed to be,” continued Truex. “We were in the right position, we had the tires – just one little break there where the 11 (Denny Hamlin) got through the hole and I couldn’t quite follow him. It was a great day for us. It’s my best run ever here at Martinsville so I’m real happy with it.”
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota
David Reutimann Race Summary: David Reutimann’s chances for a good finish Monday at Martinsville Speedway looked rather bleak around the lap 75 mark when he was stuck in the mud inside turn 2 where he slid avoiding a potential accident. But the Michael Waltrip Racing driver managed to get out of the bog and returned to pit lane where the Rodney Childers led crew made repairs. After returning to action, Reutimann made up two laps slicing through the field on the half-mile Virginia track. In the second half of the race, Reutimann continued the charge climbing up to 15th by the lap 300 mark. On lap 460, Reutimann radioed crew chief Rodney Childers a distress call of, “no brakes, no brakes!” It was followed by cut right side tire a few laps later. Reutimann and the No. 00 Toyota came to pit road for right side tires, but returned to the race several laps down in 28th place, where they would eventually finish.
David Reutimann, No. 00 TUMS Toyota
"That was a tough day. We lost a couple laps early and that set us behind, but the TUMS team really battled back and was on our way to a top-15 finish until we lost our brakes with about 60 laps to go. It’s just frustrating. We've had some really great cars this season, but unfortunately, it just hasn't produced the results we'd like." David Reutimann