Martin Truex Jr. Watkins Glen Recap Video (via Michael Waltrip Racing)
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 19th in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. Truex started 15th and battled an ill-handling Toyota throughout the 200-lap race. Truex raced mid-pack as the race approached the finish. A lap-166 caution just one lap after Truex pitted under green cost the No. 56 several spots and dropped him a lap behind the leaders. Truex took the wave around to return to the lead lap on lap 172 before racing into the top 25. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver pitted for new tires then raced from 23rd to 19th during the green-white-checkered finish.
"It was a strange day, but glad to somewhat recover some spots there in the end," said Truex who qualified for the event in 15th position. "I almost got a few more spots, but they caught me on the backstretch. The NAPA team worked so hard today but for some reason our car just would not respond -- one lap it would push and then the next it would be loose. We'll all get together tomorrow and sort some things out. We still have two more races to go for that wild card and I'm grateful we still remain in the hunt."
The start of the Michigan 400 saw Truex battle a loose in and tight through the middle and off the corners. The driver comfortably drove in the top-15 but needed air pressure and track bar changes to help contend for a top-10 position. The chance to pit came on lap 30 under a debris caution. The fast service allowed the No. 56 Toyota to take the restart on lap 34 in 14th place.
Shortly into the next green-flag run, Truex reported a loss of rear grip. It cost him several spots to compete in 20th at the 50-lap mark. The chance for the NAPA KNOW HOW pit crew to go back to work on pit road happened on lap 54 under caution. The crew completed more air and track bar adjustments.
Unfortunately, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota did not respond favorably to the changes. It caused Truex to drop out of the top 25. Crew chief Chad Johnston formulated a plan to make air pressure and wedge changes during the team's next service. The stop happened under green on lap 85.
Ten laps into the next run saw the NAPA Toyota come back to life. The driver said the rear grip was perfect, but the splitter kept hitting the ground. Another debris caution flew on lap 102 allowing Johnston to make more wedge adjustments along with packer. The No. 56 returned to the track in 29th place after the majority of the field changed only two tires versus the four fresh Goodyears bolted onto the NAPA Toyota.
During the next green-flag run, Truex raced back up into 25th. This time the driver reported an unpredictable handling car and needed more help. The NAPA KNOW HOW crew changed wedge and air pressure under green on lap 134. Once everyone settled back in, the NAPA Toyota picked up two positions to race in 23rd place. The driver radioed in to report his car was the best it had been all day.
Then on lap 166, crew chief Chad Johnston called Truex onto pit road under green, but one circuit later, NASCAR threw the caution for an issue with the No. 36. The untimely yellow put the NAPA team down a lap so Johnston kept his driver out to take the wave around. When the green flag waved, the No. 56 restarted in 29th.
Truex raced back onto the lead lap when Kurt Busch had a tire go down. It caused NASCAR to throw the caution on lap 197. It also set up a green-white-checkered-flag finish. The NAPA driver took the green flag one final time in 23rd place with just two laps to pick up more positions. He persevered to collect a 19th-place finish.
Kyle Busch won his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup race of 2011.