INDIANAPOLIS – No. 56 NAPA Platinum Filter Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 24th in Sunday's Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Truex qualified 30th but started at the back of the field after a pre-race transmission problem. Truex charged to mid-pack once the green flag flew despite heavy traffic. He moved to eighth during a lap 35 caution when he stayed on the track while most of the field pitted. Like nearly all drivers, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver spent much of the race working to make his car turn better in the corners. An early, splash-and-go, green flag pit stop on lap 130 couldn't pay dividends because the race ran caution free in the final laps.
"We threw everything we could at our NAPA Platinum Filter Toyota and did the best we could," said Truex. "We still have more work to do. I know we'll keep plugging away at this and figure it out. I had high hopes for this race after our Goodyear Tire test, but we just missed it somewhere."
The green flag dropped and Truex wasted no time to pick up track positions. In just five laps, he gained 14 spots to race in 29th. His biggest challenge was free in and tight through the turns. Crew chief Chad Johnston ordered track bar and air pressure changes when the NAPA KNOW HOW pit crew went to work on lap 26 under caution.
Shortly into the next green flag run, the NAPA Toyota improved as a debris caution slowed the action once again on lap 34. Instead of pitting with the leaders, Johnston kept his driver out to go from 29th to eighth. The race returned to green on lap 38. Less than 15 laps later, another debris caution occurred. Truex entered the pits in 13th for another air pressure change and four fresh tires and fuel. He returned to the track in 15th after several cars took just two tires.
The next run saw the tight condition continue to challenge Truex. His lap times remained competitive, but needed more help in traffic as his NAPA Platinum Filter Toyota was too tight. On lap 80, Johnston called Truex in for packer and air pressure changes. Unfortunately, the tight-handling condition continued and Johnston and his driver talked more adjustments like track bar and wedge. The MWR driver pitted under a debris caution on lap 114 for track bar and wedge changes as well as four fresh tires and fuel. He returned to the track in 23rd.
The race restarted on lap 119, but two circuits later the 51 car brought out the caution after going three wide on the track. The NAPA Platinum Filter Toyota dodged the accident by cutting through the grass. Johnston called his driver onto pit road for the NAPA KNOW HOW pit crew to remove grass on the grill and add more fuel. After several teams pitted throughout the yellow, the No. 56 Toyota took the restart on lap 126 in 14th position.
The final 30 laps saw Truex dive onto pit road under green conditions for a splash of fuel on lap 130. The time on pit road insured the No. 56 would make it to the end on fuel. The NAPA driver patiently road out the finish and waited to see if the 10 cars who gambled on track position versus taking on fuel would finish. Unfortunately the NAPA team's strategy did not pan out as planned resulting in the top-25 finish.
Next Sunday, Truex and the NAPA KNOW HOW crew return to Pocono Raceway.