Martin Truex Jr. Pocono Recap Video (via Michael Waltrip Racing)
Martin Truex Jr. Pocono Recap
CORNELIUS, N.C. – No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished third in Sunday's rain-shortened NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway. The result moves Truex to fifth place in points where he holds a 72-point cushion on 11th place as only the top 10 in points earn a Chase berth.
The NAPA Racing team also won post-race awards. Truex won the $5,000 Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver Award. Crew chief Chad Johnston won the $5,500 Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Race award for improving lap times 2.264 seconds from first half of the race to the second half.
"It was a good race for my NAPA Toyota," said Truex. "We had a pretty good car all weekend along. We didn't have the greatest qualifying run on Saturday and that kind of hurt. Once we got going out there, the last couple runs of the race, we were the fastest car on the track. The car was really, really good today. Obviously we got a little bit lucky there. Before that, we'd been catching a lot of those guys that wrecked. I was really, really hoping for a shot at the restart there being second -- would have been second because the 5 (Kasey Kahne) had a flat. He was going to have to pit. We were really fast at the end. All in all, it was a great day for the NAPA team. Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and the guys did a great job. We were sitting there running eighth and really fast with a really good car today. It was a good day for us. I have got to thank all the guys at TRD for bringing us new engines the last couple weeks. It was a good, fun race out there and a good finish."
Truex started 15th and broke into the top 10 at lap 60. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver kept up a top-five pace as the threatening weather closed in on the Pennsylvania track.
Truex's day nearly turned sour when he barely avoided a multi-car accident on the lap 90 restart. He dodged the spinning cars of leaders Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth to move into third place.
"We were all trying to save fuel because we knew the rain was coming," remarked the Michael Waltrip Racing driver. "A lot of guys had stuff all over their tires. Everybody was throwing rubber off their tires trying to get them cleaned up before we took the restart. So, all that stuff combined into those guys going off into (turn) one, all of them looked like they took off up the track. Fortunately, I was the third guy that didn't slide. The 24 (Jeff Gordon), 5 (Kasey Kahne), and me, we all went down in there and stuck. It's just one of those deals where you're just trying to save fuel and you don't have a lot of time to get the tires cleaned up."
While NASCAR cleared the track of debris, the frontrunners stayed out during the caution in favor of track position. It paid off as a rain began to fall and eventually turn into a torrential storm. It forced NASCAR to halt the race on lap 98 of a scheduled 160. Moments later, NASCAR called the race complete.
"I'm proud of the team, for what we've done and what we've accomplished," added Truex. "This is a big deal for us. To be wherever we're at, we're in pretty good shape. To have Clint (Bowyer) in there, to have Mark (Martin) and Brian (Vickers) and Michael (Waltrip) all doing what they've done in the 55, it's been an awesome team effort all year. It's been a pleasure to work with those guys. Everybody at the company has just done a phenomenal job getting our cars better. I mentioned TRD earlier. They've been such a huge part of this for us especially getting our cars better and our engines better. All that stuff really goes into it. You can't do this without good equipment and good people. I have got to thank Michael (Waltrip) and Rob (Kauffman) for what they've done to allow us to get to this point. Clint and Mark have been awesome teammates all year long. I feel like we're in a good place. We had great speed today. We had good speed last week. We're still not exactly where we'd like to be. We'd like to get in victory lane. I felt like if we could have had a shot at the restart today, we might have had a shot at it. We were very fast at the end. We're just going to keep pushing forward, keep digging, hopefully get a win before the Chase starts, and hopefully we can make some noise once it does start."
Winning the race in front of an estimated crowd of 85,000 fans was Jeff Gordon. Rounding out the top-five finishers were Kasey Kahne, Truex, Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart.
The NAPA AUTO PARTS team competes in the final road-course event of the season on Sunday at Watkins Glen International.