Martin Truex Jr. Talladega Recap Video (via Michael Waltrip Racing)
Talladega, Ala. – -- No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 13th in Sunday's Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver started 26th and raced in the top 10 for a majority of the 188-lap race. He drafted with JTG-Daugherty's Bobby Labonte and MWR teammate David Reutimann. As the race moved toward its conclusion, Truex and Reutimann bolted to the front with Truex leading six laps. They also led the field by more than a second when the final caution flew with just 13 laps remaining in the race. Truex joined a frantic battle at the end of the race that saw him finish just outside the top 10 and move to 19th in the standings.
"Man it feels good to finish one of these races," said Truex after climbing out of his NAPA Toyota. "The last two weeks have been hard on this NAPA team, but we've remained focus and got a solid finish and a good bunch of points. It also feels good to lead some laps again. I've said it all season, I've got a great race team and we had a shot to win again. We just have a little more work to do to cool our cars down; but overall, our car was an improvement from the one we had in Daytona. I'm pretty pleased."
The green flag waved and the NAPA Racing team focused on running smart and avoiding situations that could take Truex out of the running. The No. 56 chose to team up with JTG-Daugherty Racing's Bobby Labonte for the two-car draft. The duo kept the lead pack in their sights which included teammates Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann. By the time the first caution came out on lap 28 for an incident between the No. 09 and No. 83 cars, Truex raced within the top 25, but chose to wait for a run at the lead. Crew chief Pat Tryson ordered the No. 56 down pit road under yellow for a standard four-tire change and fuel. The race returned to green on lap 31 with Truex scored in 21st.
The next green-flag run lasted for 50 laps. Truex opted to "chill" with Labonte again. They ran between positions 10th through 20th. They chose to make a move to the front shortly after their green-flag stop on lap 72. Six laps later, the No. 56 moved in to sixth position.
A multi-car crash triggered by Kurt Busch and teammate Brad Keselowski collected five cars on lap 90. Truex came onto pit road under yellow on lap 93 for four tires and fuel. The race went back to full speed on circuit 95.
During the next green-flag run, Truex and Labonte flirted with the top spot and the valuable bonus point for leading. The No. 56 ran as high as fifth until a debris caution on lap 128. The NAPA KNOW HOW crew went to work one lap later for four fresh tires and fuel. The race returned to green on lap 132. The restart resembled old Talladega with a large pack gunning for the leader, but less than five laps later, the two-car tandems started to form and Truex and Labonte remained partners.
Then on lap 139, the so-called "Big One" reared its ugly head. Truex, Reutimann and Labonte miraculously made it out unscathed. During the caution, Truex bagged his bonus point for leading lap 142.
The remaining laps saw the No. 56 find a new dancing partner in teammate Reutimann. The NAPA Toyota earned the lead two more times before two cautions came out on laps 163 and 174. Both times Tryson told his driver to stay out and conserve fuel. In the end, Truex contended for the race win and after a frantic battle for the victory, the No. 56 crossed the line to finish 13th place.
Jimmie Johnson nipped Clint Bowyer at the line to equal the closest finish in NASCAR history at .002 seconds. Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr.., Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, David Gilliland and Joey Logano.
The Sprint Cup Series returns to action Saturday, April 30 at Richmond International Raceway.