BROOKLYN, Mich. – Martin Truex Jr. and the NAPA racing team battled a loose-handling Toyota during today's Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The Mayetta, N.J., native raced as high as fourth and as low as 20th before settling into a top-12 spot for the majority of the race. With less than 45 laps to go, crew chief Pat Tryson put a strategy into motion that saw Truex stay out while the majority of the frontrunners pitted for fuel only. The NAPA Toyota took the restart in second, but by the time Truex completed the lap, he was the race leader. Then on the final restart, Truex made a charge to the front to go from ninth to an eighth-place finish. The result was the team's sixth top-10 of the season.
“It was a pretty good day for us,” said Truex who qualified ninth for the event. “After the first pit stop we were really strong. We drove up there to fourth and were catching (Jimmie) Johnson and the guys for the lead. I was a little too loose so we made some adjustments. Then we got looser. Throughout the day we could never catch it.”
Truex drove comfortably in ninth position during the opening laps of the Carfax 400. As the laps ticked away, his times were within the top-five range. A debris caution was thrown on lap 31 and the NAPA driver informed his team that he was loose in and off the corners. So on lap 35, the NAPA Know How Crew went to work to make air pressure and wedge adjustments. The four-tire stop took just 12.50 seconds. It enabled Truex to take the restart in fourth position -- a gain of four spots on pit road.
Truex charged to fourth before rain brought out another caution on lap 59. Tryson called his driver onto pit road. The crew went back to work to change four tires and add fuel. A small air pressure adjustment was also made. The NAPA Toyota went back on track in ninth place. Unfortunately during the next green-flag run, the NAPA Toyota did not respond favorably to the adjustment. Truex dropped as low as 20th as his car was extremely loose through the corners. By the time the team's first green-flag stop took place on lap 101, the NAPA driver was in 12th place. The pit crew made air pressure and wedge changes.
For the next 50 laps, the NAPA team was scored in 12th position. Tryson made the decision to keep his driver out when the caution was thrown on lap 154 after Jeff Gordon experienced a problem. Everyone ahead of Truex headed onto pit road while Elliott Sadler stayed out. As the green flag waved on lap 159, Truex went door-to-door with Sadler. When lap 160 was put up on the board, the No. 56 was scored as the new leader. Truex remained in the top spot for five laps, but relinquished the position to David Ragan since the NAPA Toyota was still on the loose side.
The team's final stop came under yellow-flag conditions on lap 169. The NAPA Know How Crew made a wedge adjustment, added fuel and bolted on four fresh tires. Truex lined up in ninth place, the first car in the top 10 that took four fresh tires. The NAPA driver battled hard and was able to gain one more spot before Kevin Harvick claimed the victory.
“Overall, it was a good day for the NAPA AUTO PARTS team,” added Truex. “Pat did a really good job calling the race. We stayed out that one time and got track position. Then we were able to get our four tires and stay up there. We had a really good car on the long run. It took us awhile to get going on the short run and that hurt us. We were as good as anyone. It's something to work with. We were a lot better than we were here last time. The guys are working good and making the cars better and we feel good about that.”
The NAPA AUTO PARTS team returns to action on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.