SONOMA, Calif. – Martin Truex Jr. is a pretty mild mannered, laid back kind of guy. Nothing ever seems to bother him.
But the fire that's driven the New Jersey native to two championships in the NASCAR Nationwide Series showed Sunday when he responded to questions about Jeff Gordon and a multi-car accident that ruined the No. 56 NAPA Toyota's bid for a top-five finish in the Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway.
Truex summed up his feelings on the 42nd-place finish.
“We had a shot at running top-three or four and maybe we had a shot at winning if the thing played right,” Truex said while standing in the garage. “I guess Jeff (Gordon) figured he couldn't catch us on the track, he was going to spin us out on the restart.”
After starting tenth, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver raced in the top-five during the first 60 laps of the 110-lap race moving as high as second place. But on lap 61, dreams of a top-five finish disappeared when Gordon made a bold move by diving into the hairpin turn and clipping Truex in the right rear quarter panel.
By the time Truex restarted the car and joined the field, he had dropped to 22nd place. He came to pit road for fresh tires and restarted the race in 26th on the lap 66 restart.
Media reports said Gordon was contrite after the race saying he planned to call Truex to apologize.
But Truex's day was about to get much worse.
At the drop of the green flag, a multi-car crash blocked the front stretch leaving Truex with no chance to avoid the accident. It resulted in heavy damage to the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota that was running second minutes earlier.
“It just comes down to every week we have these double-file restarts and everybody's head just gets ridiculous. It just doesn't make any sense. Everything is fine until we have restarts and then it's like the guys running a tantrum to win the race. It's uncalled for,” Truex said.
“The unfortunate part is all the guys from my team worked so hard and we had an awesome NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota and were running top-five all day long. I just hate it for them. We were looking to have a really good day here and a lot of fun.
“We simply got caught up in that wreck and were just the victim of circumstance. We were spun out and that's what got us in the back and put us in an unfortunate situation. We should have never been in that position. We've been running upfront all day long with a great car. Everybody on the NAPA Toyota did an awesome job.”
Truex left Infineon 19th in the point standings.
Without Truex to battle, Jimmie Johnson posted his first road course victory and 51st of his career moving to 10th on the all-time victory list. Robby Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five.
Marcos Ambrose led 35 laps and finished sixth, his fourth consecutive top-10 on a road course. Ambrose was leading with six laps remaining when he flipped his engine on and off as he circled the track. His car stalled as six cars weaved around his unmoving Toyota. Although Ambrose got his car restarted and moved back to the front of the field, NASCAR ordered him back to seventh for "failing to maintain reasonable speed" right before the restart.
The race lasted two hours fifty-six minutes in front of an estimated crowd of 90,000. The race featured 12 lead changes among eight drivers. Cautions slowed the field seven times for 14 laps.
The Sprint Cup Series now heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H.