CONCORD, N.C. – It was a long 600 miles for No. 56 NAPA Batteries driver Martin Truex Jr. Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But a 23rd-place finish keeps him firmly in the battle for one of the top-12 spots in the standings. Truex dropped from 12th to 14th but is only 14 points out of 12th at the halfway mark of the regular season. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver struggled to turn on the 1.5-mile oval throughout the event, but the NAPA Know How crew kept working on the car and improved the handling as the race proceeded. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action Sunday at Pocono International Raceway.
“TWe're baffled as to what happened,” said Truex who qualified third for the Coca-Cola 600. “Charlotte hasn't been one of my better tracks, but after last week I thought it all might have changed for the best. That wasn't the case. We weren't very good. Our NAPA Batteries Toyota was tight all night. It vibrated so bad I am surprised the shifter is still on. It was definitely better at the end but that's about all I can say. It was just a tough night for us.”
Charlotte Motor Speedway has always been a challenging track for Truex. But after last week’s win in the Sprint Showdown and a runner-up finish in the Sprint All-Star Race, the driver of the NAPA Batteries Toyota thought his luck might be changing. After 100 laps ticked away, he was scored in 10th position with a car that was extremely tight in the center. During the segment, crew chief Pat Tryson had his driver pit three times on laps 53, 63, and 92. Air pressure and track bar were adjustments put into motion to help get the NAPA Batteries Toyota to turn better.
The following 100 laps saw the same tight condition. On lap 127, Truex came over the radio to report his car as being “pretty bad.” Instead of getting discouraged, the NAPA Know How crew remained focused and after another service on lap 147 for more track bar and air pressure changes, Truex was recording lap times as fast as the leader. When the caution was thrown on lap 166 for debris, the crew serviced the NAPA Batteries Toyota in 12.16 seconds. Truex returned to the track in 11th position after most teams in front of him only took two tires.
As the race was approaching the 300-lap mark, Truex was amazed at how the NAPA Batteries Toyota went from running competitive laps times with the leader to dropping to 16th place. Tryson opted to do something different by doing the reverse and pull spring rubbers out when the caution was thrown on lap 272 after Jimmie Johnson crashed. During the stop, it was discovered that there were no spring rubbers so a second service was completed on lap 275 to put spring rubbers in. Truex returned to the track in 20th and started making his way up through the field to be scored in 15th position by lap 310.
The NAPA Know How crew experienced a rare setback when the team pitted under green on lap 354. A tire got away causing Truex to go down one lap to the leader. Truex was scored in 26th position before Marcos Ambrose wrecked hard to bring out the caution on lap 377. Tryson gambled on the wave-around strategy to put Truex back on the lead lap. The final 20 laps of the Coca-Cola 600 went green and despite running on old tires, the NAPA Batteries Toyota was able to pick up two more positions before the checkered flag waved for Kurt Busch. Baffled about his evening, Truex recorded a 23rd-place finish to remain in contention for a coveted top-12 Chase position.
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota
David Reutimann Race Summary: No. 00 Aaron’s/Armed Forces Foundation Toyota driver David Reutimann’s climb up the point standings continued Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway when the Michael Waltrip Racing driver posted a fifth-place finish equaling his best result of the 2010 season. Reutimann ran in the top five throughout the 600-mile race eventually won by Kurt Busch. The finish moves the race’s defending winner to 19th in the point standings at the halfway mark of the regular season. He owns four consecutive top-15 finishes and two consecutive fifth-place finishes. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to action Sunday at Pocono International Raceway.
David Reutimann, No. 00 TUMS Toyota
How was your car today?
“We fought being tight a little bit in the center and we never could quite get it to cut the center like we needed to. We were just a little bit off and all you have to do is just be a little bit off to not be able to get to those guys. Sometimes we would catch them in the long run. It seemed like we were just one adjustment behind, but my guys did a great job. I’m proud of everybody. Rodney Childers (crew chief) and everybody did a great job all day with great pit stops. We just want to move on and get to the next one.”
How did your car handle in the race and specifically at the end of the race?
“All in all I’m proud of my team, they did a great job, and I had a great Aaron’s Dream Machine all day. We just were a little tight at the end. We came down pit road and the 99 (Carl Edwards) was leaving and we were trying to get in our box and just wrong place at the wrong time. It cost us a lot on pit road there. I don’t think it cost us the race, but I think it cost us being a little higher in the top-five. You don’t ever know. I’m proud of what we’ve done, proud of my team. I’m glad that my other owner, Rob Kaufmann is here because he doesn’t get to watch me race much. Hopefully he’s happy and I’ll get to keep my job another year.”
Is your recent performance where you feel your team should be finishing?
“Absolutely. We’ve been on par performance wise and we’ve been way ahead of where we were last year. We just had some stuff early on in the year that put us back. Now things are starting to click and things are starting to gel, things aren’t breaking and we’re starting to finish races where we’re supposed to. It feels really good to run up front all day with the guys you’re supposed to be racing with.”
Intervew with David Reutimann