TRUEX OVERCOMES EARLY RACE SETBACKS TO FINISH 17TH AT PHOENIX


AVONDALE, Ariz. – Martin Truex Jr. battled back from a pit road penalty and a loose wheel that set him back a lap to finish 17th and on the lead lap in Saturday night’s Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway. The NAPA driver looked as if he was en route to a top-10 finish, but the handling on his NAPA Toyota went drastically away on the team’s second-to-the-last stop. Truex held on but was frustrated with the end result as Phoenix is one of his favorite tracks. He currently ranks 19th in the championship points standings -- just 75 points out of The Chase.

"We rallied back from adversity after having that loose wheel and had a top-10 finish going, but the handling really went away after our second-to-the-last stop,” said Truex who qualified eighth for the Subway Fresh Fit 600. “It killed us. I don't know what happened -- maybe we had a bad set of tires. We got ourselves back to 15th on the final stop, but it just didn't handle right. It's disappointing because I really like this place."

The opening laps of the Subway Fresh Fit 600 challenged the NAPA team as they were penalized for entering pit road when it was closed during their first stop on lap 16. Truex had to restart the race in 38th after running in 13th position. The driver stayed focused to race his way up to 22nd by circuit 37. Then after completing the team’s second service on lap 57 under caution for a loose in and tight through the center condition, Truex took the green flag in 18th. Unfortunately, just six laps into the run, the NAPA driver radioed in to crew chief Pat Tryson to report a loose wheel. The NAPA Toyota was forced onto pit road under green to bolt on four new tires. Truex returned to the race one lap down and in 36th position on lap 81.

The NAPA Toyota came to life shortly thereafter. Truex raced his way up to 13th before his teammate David Reutimann brought out the seventh yellow flag of the race after brushing the wall. This time the driver told his crew chief that his car was tight in and loose off the corners. Another fast service on lap 257 allowed Truex to break into the top 10.

The team’s seventh stop of the night occurred on lap 316 under caution. Wedge and track bar were changed. Truex’s crew once again helped him gain a position on the track. He took the green in 12th while Kyle Busch was the leader on lap 321. It was during this green-flag run that saw the NAPA Toyota fall backwards. At lap 348, he was in 21st position and handling very poorly. Tryson kept encouraging his driver and told him a bad set of tires was probably the culprit.

One final chance to adjust on the car came on 372 after Scott Riggs lost a tire. Tryson ordered four fresh tires to be bolted on the NAPA Toyota before the green-white-checkered flag finish. The pit crew completed a fast stop that equated to an increase of four positions on the track. Truex took the green in 15th position and battled with multiple cars going three wide to the checkered flag. When it flew, he finished 17th.

Meanwhile, Ryan Newman was able to pass Jeff Gordon for the victory. Rounding out the top-five finishers were Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Martin Truex, Jr., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota

Truex, Jr
  • Truex Jr. started eighth and finished 17th.
  • Truex started slowly in the opening laps falling from eighth to 13th with a loose race car.
  • NASCAR sent him to the back of the field on lap 19 for entering pit lane too early dropping him to about 36th.
  • A loose wheel caused by a lug nut lodged between the wheel and brake rotor forced an unscheduled, green-flag stop on lap 77 dropping Truex down a lap to 36th place.
  • The new tires enabled him to turn the quickest laps on the track over the long green flag run that followed.
  • Kurt Busch’s crash at lap 136—a few laps after the leaders pitted but before Truex pitted—allowed Truex to pit under caution and return to lead lap in 19th.
  • While running 14th, Truex and Brad Keselowski made contact on lap 198. Keselowski spun into the wall.
  • Truex then began a climb moving as high as 10th after a pit stop on lap 254.
  • Truex raced in 12th with 60 laps remaining, but on a restart he dropped to 22nd telling Tryson he had lost all of the car’s forward bite: “I can’t touch the gas.”
  • A caution with two laps to go saw the field come to pit lane and Truex move from 19th to 15th taking four tires.
  • Truex came home 17th after the final two-lap shootout.

David Reutimann Race Summary: Except for a slight encounter with the turn four wall, No. 00 Best Western Toyota driver David Reutimann enjoyed a fairly quiet night at Phoenix International Raceway posting a 20th-place finish. Like most of the 43-car field, Reutimann fought handling issues on the slippery, flat, mile oval. After starting 39th, Reutimann charged through the field climbing into the top 15. A punctured right rear slowed his progress midway through the race but the Florida native resumed his charge until the brush with the wall at lap 253 damaged the rear of his Camry. He stayed on the lead lap the remainder of the race climbing as high as 15th before a late caution forced a green-white-checkered finish. Reutimann crossed the finish line in 20th. The finish moves Reutimann to 25th in points.

David Reutimann, No. 00 TUMS Toyota

David Reutimann
  • Reutimann started 39th and finished 20th
  • Reutimann looked to be one of the fastest cars on the track working his way into the top 20 by lap 30.
  • A punctured right rear tire slowed his progress near the halfway mark and he fell to about 24th.
  • At lap 253, Reutimann spun and made contact with the wall causing body damage to the rear of his Toyota and dropping him to 26th.
  • He spent the rest of the race on the lead lap turning very competitive lap times climbing to 15th.
  • A caution with two laps to go saw Reutimann line up 17th for the green-white checkered.
“We kind of had an up-and-down race. We started at the back and had to race really hard in the beginning. We made up a ton of spots early, but then the car kind of went away from us. We had a tire issue and that hurt us. There on the wreck I was just trying too hard to hang on to it and it just got away. My guys got it fixed and we were pretty good after that. That green-white-checkered cost us a couple spots.” David Reutimann

Post Race Facts

  • Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry - finished 17th - now 19th in points.
  • David Reutimann, No. 00 Best Western Toyota Camry - finished 20th - now 25th in points.

Post Race Notes

  • Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Juan Montoya swept the top-five spots.
  • A green-white-checkered jumbled the field at the end of the race and saw leaders Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson line up seventh and eighth for the two-lap shootout.
  • Newman, who took only two tires on the pit stop, beat Jeff Gordon on the restart then held on to beat Gordon by .13 seconds and snapped a 77-race winless streak.
  • The race saw 20 lead changes among 13 drivers. There were nine cautions for 59 laps.
  • The average speed was 99.372mph.
  • Race promoters added 63 laps (now 375 laps/miles or 600 Kilometers) to Saturday night’s race to insure the final laps could be run under the lights. The race took 3 hours, 48 mins and 13 secs.
  • NASCAR allowed the teams an extra man over the wall to service the windshields because of all the bugs at the track.
  • NASCAR estimated the attendance at 70,000.

Subway Fresh Fit 600 Unofficial Results

Unofficial Championship Points Standings