Talladega, Ala. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished 10th in Sunday's 500-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. The Mayetta N.J. native started 37th alongside drafting partner David Reutimann. The duo raced near the back of the field for the first 100 laps. After halfway, Truex told his teammate to pull the trigger and they immediately raced into the top 10. Truex and Reutimann climbed to third and fourth on the white flag lap, but the scramble on the final lap saw Truex come across the finish line in 10th. It was Truex's 10th top-10 of 2011.
"We were right where we needed to be," said Truex after the race. "I thought we had it. For whatever reason, David and I just couldn't stay together when it mattered most. We really needed this. We've had good cars this season but not a lot to show for it especially over the last couple of races. I'm really happy. We almost had the win."
The green flag dropped and the pairing of Truex and Reutimann began the two-car dance that's become Talladega-styled racing. The duo kept a steady pace and used the time to determine closing rates. Just 24 laps into the event, a yellow flag came out for debris. Crew chief Chad Johnston ordered a four-tire change and more fuel. The NAPA KNOW HOW crew made no adjustments. The fast stop moved Truex up to 20th.
Once the race got back under way, it was business as usual. Truex and his teammate briefly tried a four-car draft with car owner Michael Waltrip and Toyota driver Denny Hamlin. Then the two-car dance resumed as they road in the back and out of harm's way. The NAPA Toyota raced between positions 18th through 34th.
A debris caution came out on lap 67 after the No. 18 car spun the No. 20 car. The NAPA Toyota visited pit road for two tires and fuel. Truex restarted in 13th position alongside Reutimann when the green flag waved on lap 72. Meanwhile, less than 10 laps into the run, the caution flag once again waved for an incident involving teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. The NAPA Toyota chose to come down pit road on lap 81 for two left-side tires and fuel. Truex returned to the track in 20th position.
It was back to business as usual when the green flag waved on lap 85. Truex raced in 20th, still glued to the Aaron's Dream Machine. During this run, the NAPA Toyota teetered between ninth place and 32nd. Then on lap 104, the No. 43 machine lost control of his car before the start-finish line. It collected several other machines including Chase contenders Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Fortunately, the Michael Waltrip Racing Toyotas made it through unscathed.
The yellow flag enabled the NAPA KNOW HOW crew to make a wedge adjustment along with bolting on four fresh tires and adding fuel. The NAPA Toyota lined up in 17th when the race returned to green on lap 109. As soon as the cars got up to speed, Truex told Reutimann to pull the trigger. The duo immediately climbed within the top 10. Then 12 laps later, NASCAR threw a debris caution. Johnston ordered a fuel-only service on lap 122. Truex lined up 12th for the restart and remained there when the caution flag waved on lap 129.
Three more caution flags flew on laps 163, 174 and 181. The final yellow put the race into overtime. Truex restarted in ninth and Reutimann hitched onto the back of the NAPA Toyota. With one lap to go, Michael Waltrip Racing remained in the hunt for the win and when the checkered flag waved, Truex scored his 10th top-10 of the season.
The Michael Waltrip Racing team returns to action Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.