Martin Truex Jr. Recap Video (via Michael Waltrip Racing)
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 36th in Sunday's 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway.
Truex started eighth and ran as high as third in the 267-lap race. Truex looked to be one of the fastest cars on the track and a contender for the victory. That hope evaporated on lap 172 when he broke a rear axle leaving the pits. Michael Waltrip Racing teammate David Reutimann suffered a similar problem earlier in the event. Truex spent about 30 laps in the garage making repairs before returning to the race.
"I didn't realize that David (Reutimann) had a similar problem before us," said Truex. "I'm not sure if there was something we could do to avoid it. We were back running lap times equal to the leaders when we pitted. We just needed help at the start of a green-flag run. I thought we were going to be in really good shape and then the axle broke. We've had two weeks of really bad luck. We fixed it and went back out to hopefully learn a few things for some upcoming races. We're going to do everything we can to climb back up in the points and turn this deal around."
The start of the Kansas 400 proved to be a good one for the NAPA driver as he gained three positions to break into the top five by lap 12. Then on lap 15, crew chief Chad Johnston informed his driver that he had the fastest car on the track. The yellow flag appeared on lap 20 for a Bobby Labonte incident. It gave Johnston the chance to fine tune the NAPA Toyota with a small air pressure change to help loosen the car up on exit. Truex returned to the track within the top 10 due to two cars staying out while several only bolted on two fresh tires.
Once the race settled in, Truex raced in fourth at lap 45. His only complaint was losing the nose on exit and a little tight the longer the race run. The NAPA KNOW HOW pit crew serviced the car under green on lap 67 for four fresh tires and gas. When the pit sequence concluded, Truex ran in fifth.
A debris caution flew on lap 84. Johnston ordered a small air pressure adjustment. Four fresh tires and more fuel also completed the service. The No. 56 Toyota returned to the track in ninth as several cars once again opted for only two fresh tires.
Truex lost ground on the restart saying his car was too tight. The issue persisted, dropping the NAPA Toyota to 16th by lap 100. Johnston wasted no time saying the air pressure would be put back. The driver started to once again pick up some steam by lap 110 and raced in 15th.
The chance to service the NAPA Toyota happened under green on lap 128. The green-flag pit cycle concluded around lap 139 with Truex scored in 16th. However at the end of the run, the NAPA Toyota started to record lap times equal to the leader. The driver told Johnston he needed more grip at the start of the run as the balance was good at the end. The team's scheduled service happened on lap 172. As soon as the jack dropped, the axle broke forcing the team to make repairs in the garage.
Truex returned to the track with about 60 laps to go. The team used the remainder of the race to prepare for upcoming races like Texas and Phoenix.
The No. 56 team returns to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series action next Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.