FORT WORTH, Texas – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. posted his third consecutive top-10 finish Sunday when he finished eighth in the 500-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. Truex started 19th and quickly climbed into the top 15 under the direction of Scott Miller, Michael Waltrip Racing's new executive vice president of competition. Truex and Miller kept making changes to the No. 56 and improving the handling throughout the race. The improved handling combined with quick pit stops saw Truex climb as high as seventh in the late stages of the race.
"I am really proud of my entire NAPA team today," said Truex. "The NAPA KNOW HOW pit crew was on it! I also want to thank Scott Miller for all his help this weekend. We brought a brand new chassis here and we're getting close. We have a little more work to do, but that's O.K. It's a big improvement from where we raced earlier this year so that's all that matters. We are moving in the right direction and I appreciate all the work MWR is doing to get us in contention. It's great to have this positive momentum going and I look forward to next weekend at Phoenix. It should be one heck of a good race!"
Windy conditions greeted competitors for the scheduled 334 laps at Texas Motor Speedway. Truex worked his way up to 14th before handling challenges had him race comfortably in the top 16 by lap 24. The driver reported tight conditions in the corners so under green-flag conditions on lap 43, Miller pitted the No. 56 Toyota for an air pressure change, four fresh tires and fuel.
At the 100-lap mark, Miller encouraged his driver as he recorded top-10 lap times after the team's second stop on lap 86. Wedge adjustments helped make significant gains on the track. The NAPA Toyota drove from 22nd to 17th place.
Then on lap 113, NASCAR threw a debris caution. More air and wedge changes happened. The fast service completed by the NAPA KNOW HOW crew gained Truex two positions on the track. He lined up 15th when the race returned to green on lap 116.
The adjustments continued to help as the NAPA Toyota raced in 14th by lap 135. Truex told the team that the longer the run, the rear grip started to go away. So on lap 157, the NAPA KNOW HOW crew went back to work under green.
As before, the fast service gained Truex two more positions to compete in 12th with the top 10 well within his sights. Another green-flag stop for wedge, fuel and four tires happened on lap 196. Unfortunately four laps later, NASCAR threw the caution flag for an incident involving the No. 36 car. The yellow forced the team to stay out and take the wave around in order to race back onto the lead lap. Despite the minor hiccup, Truex lined up in 12th position when the green flag waved on lap 206.
The NAPA team drove up to 11th place before Jimmie Johnson spun through the frontstretch grass. Truex dove onto pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. Meanwhile, just two circuits after the green flag waved on lap 244, the NAPA Toyota broke into the top 10.
On lap 261, another caution flag slowed the race. Truex reported a tight-handling condition so Miller ordered a wedge change along with four fresh tires and fuel. Positions one through seven changed only two tires, but it only cost Truex one spot on the track. Then four laps later, another caution flag waved. The driver's only complaint was he needed the NAPA Toyota to turn better.
Truex took advantage of a strong restart on lap 274. He climbed as high as eighth and then went to battle against Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Paul Menard. Then it was time for the NAPA KNOW HOW crew to complete their final pit stop of the race on lap 299. Several teams stayed out hoping to gamble on fuel, but the mileage didn't add up. Truex stayed the course to record his third straight-top-10 finish with an eighth-place result - a feat only he and the race winner, Tony Stewart, have been able to do in the last three events.
The Michael Waltrip Racing team returns to action Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.