LAS VEGAS – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Martin Truex Jr. scored his best finish ever at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after taking the checkered flag in sixth position on Sunday. For the second-straight race, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver turned in a top-10 qualifying effort by starting ninth. Over the course of 267-circuits, Truex led a lap and never dropped below 14th position which happened within the first 20 laps. The NAPA team's first top-10 result of the season allowed Truex to advance nine positions to seventh place in the championship standings. Next Sunday the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is off, but returns the following week for the season's first short-track race at the half-mile bullring known as Bristol Motor Speedway.
"This NAPA team has been on it this year," said Truex after the race. "We really hit on some things at the end of last season. The communication is going great. My chief engineer Chad Johnson and I are really on the same page as far as getting the car setup. We had good practices all weekend. We had a good run last week. It's just been good. The communication has been going really well and we're building a lot better race cars. The NAPA team is really learning what I need in them. There's going to be a lot more of these good finishes this year."
Before Truex's race started, the two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion spoke highly about his chances. He told guests at a packed NAPA Race Day Experience that his NAPA Toyota was the best he's ever driven at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. As soon as the green flag dropped, Truex complained of front tire chatter, but it turned well through the center and off the corners. The first chance to pit came under caution on lap 10 for fuel and a wedge change.
After another quick caution on lap 15 for a spin, the No. 56 took the green on lap 19 in 14th position. Just five laps later, Truex drove back into the top 10. The driver told crew chief Pat Tryson that his NAPA Toyota needed to turn better. Meanwhile as the laps ticked away, his car's balance improved and on lap 55, Truex picked up a bonus point for leading the lap. That's when Tryson called the No. 56 to pit road for a small air pressure change, four tires and fuel. The NAPA Toyota raced in ninth after green-flag pit stops cycled through.
The third caution of the day came out on lap 97 for debris. Kyle Busch blew out a tire. Truex pitted on lap 99 for fuel, four tires and a wedge adjustment. He returned to the track in 10th position. Then two quick cautions occurred on laps 103 and 109. The NAPA Toyota raced just outside the top five in sixth.
The race returned to green on lap 117 and Truex wasted no time to drive up into the top five for the first time. At the halfway mark, he recorded lap times within two tenths-of-a-second to leader Tony Stewart. Despite the fast times, the NAPA Toyota still needed loosened up through the corners so the chance to fine tune the car came under caution on lap 151.Truex pitted for air pressure, four tires and fuel . A fast stop gained the No. 56 one spot, while several frontrunners received penalties on pit road. The race restarted on lap 157 with Truex in second position.
Jeff Gordon brought out the seventh yellow flag of the event on lap 196. Truex liked the overall balance of his NAPA Toyota so only a four tire change and more fuel made up the service. He returned to the track in third after Stewart only took two tires during his service to retake the lead. The green flag waved on lap 203.
Truex wanted his NAPA Toyota tightened up when the NAPA KNOW HOW crew went to work one final time on lap 244 under green. Tryson ordered up air pressure and wedge changes along with four fresh tires and fuel. Several of the front-runners took just two Goodyear tires. The No. 56 drove the final 25 laps flawlessly to record his first top-10 finish of the season by crossing the line in sixth place.
In the end, Carl Edwards won the Kobalt Tools 400. Rounding out the top-10 was Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman, Truex, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Brian Vickers.