Martin Truex Jr. Watkins Glen Recap Video (via Michael Waltrip Racing)
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished fourth in Monday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International. The NAPA Toyota raced in the top five throughout the rain-delayed event and climbed as high as second with 20 laps remaining. Truex restarted the green-white-checkered finish in fourth and battled for the lead when the green flag waved. He dodged several wrecks and near wrecks on the final lap to record his best finish of the 2011 season. The NAPA Racing team is now 21st in points and only 22 markers out of the top 15.
"We were real close today," smiled Truex after the race. "We got a little sniff of the lead there on the second-to-last restart, but we were just a little bit too tight on restarts. We feel like we are getting closer and today was real good day to build momentum. This was a good day and we'll have more good days coming up for the NAPA Toyota. We've got some momentum."
Despite a threatening mist, NASCAR got the thumbs up by the drivers to start on time. The green flag waved and Truex picked off three positions by lap 10. His only real challenge was his NAPA Toyota ran loose in the right turns. Meanwhile, crew chief Chad Johnston started to implement a two-stop race for the NAPA KNOW HOW team as the majority of the field needed three stops if the event went the entire distance. Johnston ordered the No. 56 onto pit road under caution on lap 29. The pit crew made wedge and air pressure changes along with bolting on four fresh tires and adding fuel. Truex returned to the track in fifth position.
The race returned to green on lap 31. The driver lost a few positions due to a tight condition. Then four laps into the run, Truex said the NAPA Toyota started to respond favorably to the adjustments. By halfway, he regained four spots to run in seventh and on lap 47, he ran in the top five.
NASCAR threw the caution flag on lap 49 when Kurt Busch brought out a full-course caution. It allowed Truex to conserve fuel. Johnston kept his driver out and on mark with his strategy. The NAPA Toyota restarted the race on lap 52 in fourth.
The NAPA team's final stop happened under green on lap 60. The NAPA KNOW HOW crew changed four tires and added fuel. Truex returned to the track and started to throttle up for the finish. Then on lap 66, Denny Hamlin took a hard hit to bring out another caution.
The green-flag waved on lap 69 with the NAPA Toyota in third place and before a circuit was completed, Truex drove to second. Then heated battles developed between the No. 56 as the NAPA driver went door-to-door with Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose. The NAPA driver secured fourth place before another yellow flag flew on lap 86. Johnston reiterated to his driver the need to conserve fuel as the race went into overtime.
The green flag waved one final time with Truex in the mix for the win. And after the field took the white flag, two multi-car accidents happened in Turns 2 and 5. The driver sustaining the most damage was Truex's teammate David Reutimann. His No. 00 Toyota ended up upside down. Fortunately, Reutimann climbed out unscathed.
For the No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS team, its driver crossed the finish line in fourth place earning the team its best finish of the season.
Winning the race and finally earning a road course victory was former JTG-Daugherty Racing driver and road course expert Marcos Ambrose.
Truex and the Michael Waltrip Racing team return to action Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.