Martin Truex Jr. Las Vegas Recap Video (via Michael Waltrip Racing)
CORNELIUS, N.C. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished third in Sunday’s 500-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I am so proud of the team -- all the guys on the NAPA team and everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing),” smiled Truex when addressed by the media on pit road after the race. “Clint (Bowyer) and Brian (Vickers) were up front all day long and this just says a lot about everything that everybody at MWR has done over the off season. Working hard, giving us good race cars. We got off in the mid-part of the race, but had the race strategy at the end and a fast enough car to stay up there.
“It was a great day for our NAPA Toyota and for everybody on our team. Obviously, it was a great day for MWR. I’m proud of Michael (Waltrip, team owner) and Rob (Kaufmann, team owner) and everything they’ve put into this team to get us to where we are. I am proud of Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and his call at the end. He called to stay out and stuck to his guns and never second-guessed himself. He’s really coming into his own as a crew chief. I’m proud of him and the team and proud of everyone at MWR for what they’ve given us. TRD (Toyota Racing Development) for all their help. We’ve come a long way in the last 10 or 15 races -- we’ve had a really consistent, really good race team. We’ve got a lot of confidence. For us, it was a good day. We were up and down. We were off on the middle part of the race, but we kept digging and worked hard on it. We got back up to fifth, sixth, seventh right there before that last caution and stayed out. That was the call of the race. Just want to thank Chad, thank everybody on the NAPA team, the NAPA car and we’ll see what happens -- go to California and try to get to victory lane. We’re getting close.”
Truex started 15th and narrowly dodged a multi-car crash on lap 24 that eliminated several top contenders. He raced in the top five as he and crew chief Chad Johnston worked to improve the handling on Truex’s Toyota to contend for the top spot.
But at midway, the NAPA Toyota ran loose in and off the corners. Despite the handling issue, Truex ran solidly in or near the top 10. But it was a call by Johnston to pit out of sequence and for the final time on lap 366 that turned things around for the NAPA KNOW HOW crew. The call enabled Truex to drive from 12th to fifth.
Then when most of the frontrunners pitted under caution on lap 477, Truex stayed out to restart in fourth and contended for the race win during the final 18-lap dash.
Truex’s third-place finish combined with fourth and fifth-place finishes by Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers gave Michael Waltrip Racing three cars in the top five. Truex is now fourth in the standings.
In front of 102,000 fans, Brad Keselowski edged Matt Kenseth by 0.714 seconds for the victory. Five cautions slowed the race for 49 laps for an average speed of 93.037 mph. The race featured 13 lead changes among seven drivers.
Next Sunday, the NAPA AUTO PARTS team visits Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.