WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – It was an exciting weekend for No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. both on and off the track.
The New Jersey native overcame a mid-race spin to post a 15th-place finish Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International. Truex’s tenth top-15 finish keeps him 20th in the point standings, but closes the gap and puts him well within striking distance of a top-15 ranking.
Despite the good finish, Truex thinks he could have done even better.
“A 15th-place finish isn’t bad, but I really think if we could race again tomorrow, we’d get a top-10 if not better. We had an OK day,” Truex said. “We thought we were going to be really good but some mechanical gremlins kind of got us during the race. Like a lot of guys, we were having brake issues and I just couldn’t attack the track like I wanted.”
Truex started 25th and moved into the top 15 by lap 23 of the 90-lap race. He raced midpack through the race’s middle stages but spun on lap 48 dropping to 33rd place. Truex charged from the back moving into the top 20 on lap 69.
Truex kept racing up the scoring chart and ended the race with a top-15 finish—his 10th of the season.
“We fought our way up there once and spun out because the brakes went away. I was inside the 77 (Sam Hornish) trying to pass him, and instead of spinning him out, I just spun myself out because I didn't want to take him out.”
Away from the track, the New Jersey native lived out a childhood dream by throwing out the first pitch and doing a stunt with the Philly Phanatic at the Philadelphia Phillies game Saturday night as part of an appearance for Toyota.
“Man, that was a busy weekend,” said Truex who jetted the 275 miles from Elmira, New York to Philadelphia. “I literally walked out onto the field with 40 players from the Phillies past and it included Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and Jim Bunning! It was such an added bonus for me to experience that. I grew up watching some of them and saw quite a few that played when I wasn’t even around. I knew that this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience so I wanted to do something so I had a Phillies race helmet designed and it was presented to (Phillies Manager) Charlie Manuel. He really liked it. Needless to say, my night in Philadelphia will be one that I will never ever forget.”
The Michael Waltrip Racing team returns to action Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.