RICHMOND, Va. – No. 56 NAPA Brakes Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 30th in Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway. Truex was one of 13 drivers vying for two wild card spots to make the Chase. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver started 29th, but on lap 8 suffered damage in a multi-car accident. The damage appeared cosmetic, but Truex cut right front tires on lap 32 and lap 43 restarts. Repairs cost the NAPA team eight laps in the pits ending the team's bid for a Chase Wild Card. After returning to the track, the NAPA Brakes Toyota produced competitive lap times, but the loss of track position was too much to overcome.
"I thought we were going to be OK after we got spun out," said Truex. "I guess we had something wrong that caused the tires to cut down. It's a shame because we had a really good car in race trim and felt confident we could race our way up through the field. We wanted to put on a good show for NAPA, but just got caught up in a crash. Then to get the tire problem resolved and still have a decent car just tells you how good we would have been had we not been wrecked. Even Michael came over the radio to say we were running top-five times and I knew it too. The NAPA Brakes Toyota was still fast after all that. It's a shame. I love racing here and it's so much fun to race when you can pass them. Tonight, we could pass them. Now we'll focus on the points and go after that 13th-place position in the standings."
It was an emotional pre-race show on Saturday evening as NASCAR and its teams paid tribute to the 10th Anniversary of Sept. 11. Then shortly after 7:30 p.m., it was back to business as usual and Truex strapped into his NAPA Brakes Toyota for what he hoped would be a legitimate chance to get into the Chase.
The start of Richmond's 400-mile event proved to be a real showdown as it produced two caution flags on laps 2 and 8. The NAPA Brakes Toyota sustained damage on the second yellow after Clint Bowyer broke loose triggering a major traffic jam. Truex informed his team that the alignment was fine and not to worry. Crew chief Chad Johnston called his driver onto pit road for the NAPA Know How pit crew to assess the damage and make repairs on laps 14 and 15. Truex returned to the track in 29th place.
Unfortunately, the NAPA team's chance to rebound ended with two cut down right-front tires on laps 32 and 43. The crew worked underneath the car to find the problem. With the issue resolved, the NAPA Brakes Toyota raced in 34th position, eight laps down at the 60-lap mark.
For the remainder of the race, Johnston used the track time as a test session to prepare for next season. Truex provided great feedback to his team and it showed. His NAPA Brakes Toyota produced top-five lap times throughout the event.
Truex and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team are now 17th in the championship standings - 41 points out of 13th place. The No. 56 returns to action next Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.