Martin Truex Jr. Pocono Recap Video (via Michael Waltrip Racing)
LONG POND, Pa. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 12th in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway. Truex qualified third and during the early stages of the event, battled a loose-handling condition to race in the top 25. Crew chief Chad Johnston made a series of adjustments to transform the NAPA Toyota back into a top-10 contender by the halfway mark. Then, at lap 124, NASCAR threw the red flag for rain after Truex drove up to 13th. After a 90-minute delay, Truex went back to work. During the final restart, with 16 laps to go, he raced his way from 18th to the 12th- place finish.
"Chad (Johnston) made a good call on the final restart to get more speed out of our NAPA Toyota," said Truex after the race. "This weekend we learned a lot ... we have a good set up for qualifying, but have a little more work to do to get it balanced for the start of the race. Our first half of the race wasn't pretty, but by halfway, Chad got it dialed in to the point we were competitive and had a chance to contend for a top-10 finish. It was a good rebound all and all and I'm looking forward to running the road course in Watkins Glen."
The opening laps saw Truex battle a loose handling NAPA Toyota. It also lacked grip. Crew chief Chad Johnston ordered up air pressure and track bar adjustments to fine tune the No. 56 when the caution flag flew on lap 13. Truex returned to the track in 13th position.
Changes made helped as Truex maintained 13th. Meanwhile another caution flag flew for a spin involving David Ragan. The No. 56 remained on the track with inclement weather just down the road. Not long after the restart, Truex lost several positions as his car still battled the loose condition. The driver tried several grooves to determine which line worked the best, but as the laps ticked away; his car needed major changes since it was too tight through the corners. The chance to pit came under green on lap 40. The NAPA KNOW HOW crew made air pressure, track bar and wedge adjustments. Once the pit cycle was completed, Truex raced in the top-25. The driver radioed in a few laps later to report that the changes seemed to help, but the NAPA Toyota still needed more improvement especially during a long green-flag run.
By the halfway mark, spring rubber additions that occurred during stops on laps 86 and 101 breathed new life into Truex's NAPA Toyota. By lap 117, the No. 56 was within striking distance of a top-10 spot as weather threatened to affect the event. Then rain started to fall on lap 120 and three laps later, NASCAR threw the yellow flag. Moments later, the yellow flag turned to red. The field entered pit road to wait out the rain. NASCAR timing and scoring had the NAPA Toyota in 13th place.
After 90 minutes, Truex went back to work. The final 70 laps saw the NAPA Toyota still battle handling issues as a late-race caution set up a 16-lap dash to the finish. Truex restarted 18th after nine cars chose not to pit, and wasted no time climbing to the 12th-place result.
Winning for the second time this year was Brad Keselowski. Rounding out the top-five finishers were Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman.
Next Sunday, the NAPA KNOW HOW team competes in the final road-course race of the season at Watkins Glen International.