INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. saw a sure top-10 finish spoiled shortly after the halfway mark of Sunday's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver suffered front end and right side damage on a restart that took him out of contention for the victory. Plus, a late-race stop for a loose right front wheel dropped him off the lead lap. Until then, the No. 56 looked to be the strongest Toyota and one of the strongest in the race -- never venturing outside the top 10 except during pit stop cycles.
“It's a shame,” said Truex who lined up for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 12th. “We had a top-five, top-10 Toyota and got back in traffic after a jack problem on our pit stop (lap 118). The restart bit us again when the cars started getting bunched up. We got major damage to the nose and right side. The NAPA Know How crew did all they could. It just didn't handle competitively after that and then we had to pit late for a vibration (loose right front wheel). I just hate it that our good runs are being taken away like this. I'm so disappointed.”
Truex took the green flag and was ahead of a multicar crash that broke out on the first circuit. Truex's teammate David Reutimann, and winner of the Chicagoland race, was not so lucky. He sustained significant damage to his No. 00 Toyota, but was able to continue on after repairs on pit road. Then just 13 laps later, another caution flag flew on lap 14. The front runners, including Truex, dove onto pit road. Crew chief Pat Tryson ordered up a two-tire service. The NAPA Toyota picked up five spots in the pits to take the restart in fifth position.
For the next 100 laps, Truex drove comfortably in the top 10. His biggest challenge was slick track conditions. The team pitted on laps 47 and 66 for four tires and minor adjustments that included air pressure and wedge. The NAPA driver made up the most ground on the competition during long green-flag runs.
The NAPA team's day started to take a turn when jack man Brian Chase had his right foot run over by Jeff Burton. The seasoned crew member continued through the stop despite the pain. Truex returned to the track in eighth while Chase was taken to the infield care center where he was evaluated and released. Getty Cavitt, the jackman for Diamond-Waltrip Racing's No. 99 Nationwide Series team, subbed for the remainder of the race.
The following stop on lap 118 under caution was slowed due to an equipment problem. It cost the team five positions. Truex was forced to take the restart in 13th. The number proved very unlucky as the restart did not go off without a hitch. The NAPA Toyota suffered damage to its nose and right side after the field got bunched up. Truex did all he could to hold on but the damage dropped the No. 56 Toyota to 22nd position. Fortunately the chance to repair the NAPA Toyota happened under caution on lap 138.
Once back on track, the NAPA Toyota was able to pick up two more spots before the event's sixth caution flag flew for pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Montoya was forced to retire while Tryson used the opportunity to work on the NAPA Toyota. Truex took the green in 22nd and raced his way to 18th before a vibration developed with less than 10 laps to go. The driver told his crew chief that he didn't think he could make it to the end so he dove onto pit road for a four tire service on lap 151. The unscheduled stop cost the team a lap, but it was discovered that the vibration was due to a loose right front wheel.
The NAPA Toyota was relegated to a 26th-place finish, while Jamie McMurray scored his car owner Chip Ganassi his third crown jewel of the year. Ganassi's teams have won the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400 in 2010.
This coming weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Pocono Raceway on August 1 for the running of the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500.