JOLIET, Ill. – It was all about finding the right air pressure combination during Saturday night’s 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Chicagoland Speedway for NAPA Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. The early stages saw the 30-year-old from Mayetta, N.J. run as high as second. Approaching the halfway mark, Truex remained comfortably in the top-five, but needed a few tweaks to climb back into winning contention. Unfortunately a problem with an air gun socket during the team's stop on lap 183 dropped the NAPA Toyota from ninth to 13th position. Truex was able to climb back to 11th place before his teammate David Reutimann scored the victory. The NAPA team’s eighth top-15 finish keeps Truex 20th in the points standings, 226 points out of 12th.
"I am so happy for David," said Truex who qualified eighth. "We should have been up there with him. At night our car just got really loose off. We should have been better than that but I guess we missed it a little on air pressure. Regardless, we got a decent finish and our teammate got the win. I hope David and Rodney and the entire No. 00 team enjoy the celebration tonight. It is well deserved."
The opening laps of the Chicagoland event saw a very strong showing from the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas. Just 22 laps into the race, crew chief Pat Tryson started calling out the driver’s lap times, and after each circuit run, the times were faster than the leader Jimmie Johnson.
NASCAR threw the caution on lap 38 with Truex running in the fifth spot. The NAPA driver needed his car loosened up, so in 12.6 seconds, the NAPA Know How Pit Crew changed four tires and refueled the car. The fast stop got Truex back on track in second position.
The NAPA Toyota raced in the top five for the first 145 laps. As the night went on, Truex reported a loose-handling condition. The team pitted during laps 93 and 131 for small air pressure changes. Each time, the NAPA Know How Pit Crew serviced the car in less than 12.7 seconds.
The NAPA team experienced a small setback during the team’s fourth stop of the night. Truex came in ninth and as the team serviced the car, an air gun developed a socket problem when the left rear tire was changed. It slowed the stop to an unusual 15 seconds. The No. 56 Toyota returned to the track in 13th position.
When the race went back to green on lap 188, Truex quickly picked up two positions by lap 191, but could never regain the blistering-fast speed he had in the first 150 laps to race his teammate for the win. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota crossed the finish line in 11th position.
Reutimann’s victory on Saturday night is Michael Waltrip Racing’s second Cup win in just four seasons of fulltime competition.
This coming weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is off, but will return the following week to the hallowed grounds of Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25.