KANSAS CITY, Kan. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 20th in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver started eighth, but not long into the 267-lap event, he battled significant handling issues. The NAPA team made major changes to help the No. 56 Toyota's handling and shortly after the halfway mark, Truex's machine improved to race in the top 15. Then in the closing stages, fuel mileage came into play as several teams stayed out which put Truex at a disadvantage when their strategy paid off. As a result, the NAPA Toyota finished in 20th place.
"I raced as hard as I could," said Truex. "The NAPA team worked on the car all day and made some big changes that helped. In the end, we pitted for fuel and four tires, while about five teams gambled and stayed out. It paid off for them. I think what we learned today is we have a little more work to do with our cars. I'm confident we'll figure it out."
The opening laps of the Kansas 400 saw Truex battle a loose condition through the center and off the corners. He also wanted more front grip. The NAPA Toyota raced in the top-20, before the team's first green-flag stop occurred on lap 42. Crew chief Pat Tryson ordered a wedge change, along with four fresh tires and fuel. The fast service by the NAPA KNOW HOW crew enabled Truex to pick up three positions on the track to run in 17th position.
By lap 100, the NAPA team remained focused and in search of the balance needed for Truex to make a move to the front. The NAPA Toyota raced in 23rd place. A chance to make significant changes happened under caution on lap 112. Tryson ordered a major wedge adjustment to help improve the No. 56's overall grip.
After another caution on lap 119, Truex took the green flag on lap 126 in 22nd position and at the halfway mark, his NAPA Toyota improved as he climbed into the top 20. Meanwhile, another fast stop by the NAPA KNOW HOW crew picked up three positions for Truex after a stop under caution on lap 154. Truex raced in 16th before two quick caution flags slowed the action on laps 152 and 162.
When the green flag dropped on lap 165, No. 56 raced back into the top 15. Truex notified the team the NAPA Toyota's handling went away halfway through a run. The chance to fine tune the car with air pressure came under green on lap 201.
With more than 50 laps to go, Truex drove in 15th as his crew chief notified him that fuel-mileage strategies might dictate the outcome of the race. The NAPA team opted to pit one final time on lap 240 for an air pressure change, four fresh tires and fuel. A few circuits later, Tryson told Truex, he was right as several teams gambled and stayed out. In the end, their strategy worked and resulted in Brad Keselowski scoring his second NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of his career. Truex settled for 20th place. Rounding out the top-five finishers were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards.
Truex is now 22nd in the driver standings, tied with Brad Keselowski (21st) with 324 points. The Sprint Cup Series returns to action next Sunday at Pocono Raceway.