NAPA Shocks Toyota's Four-Second Lead Dwindles After Late-Race Caution

Martin Truex Jr. Bristol Recap Video
(via Michael Waltrip Racing )

Martin Truex Jr. Bristol Recap
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Martin Truex Jr. Bristol Recap
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CORNELIUS, N.C. – No. 56 NAPA Shocks Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. finished fourth in Sunday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He joined teammate Clint Bowyer in clinching Michael Waltrip Racing's first berths in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Truex took over the lead on lap 282 of the 325-lap race and appeared ready to claim his first victory of the season. A caution with four laps remaining forced a green-white-checkered finish. Truex restarted second, but dropped to fourth and ran out of laps before he could regain the lead.

"Tonight is what NASCAR racing is all about," said Michael Waltrip, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing. "We're so disappointed that Martin (Truex Jr.) didn't win. But, we have to be thankful we're in the Chase. Both Martin and Clint Bowyer cars are in and our third Toyota turned in a top-10 run by the Rodney Childers' (crew chief) 55 car (Mark Martin). I don't know -- you're supposed to be happy when you race and you have success, but somehow we were able to rob the joy of making the Chase. I don't know how, but we did. We just thought we had it won and Jamie (McMurray) had a flat tire. There was nothing we could do about that and we didn't win. I told the folks from NAPA -- Gaylord Spencer and Dan Askey and Mike Rearden are here from NAPA's headquarters here in Atlanta -- and I told them, 'You know, you read in the paper tomorrow we ran fourth and you'll be like, oh we ran fourth.' If you're sitting here, this stuff is hard but we almost got there."

Truex led 39 laps Sunday night and appeared the have the dominating car the second half of the race. The fourth-place finish is his sixth top-five finish of the season.

"It sure would have been nice to get a win," added Truex who qualified 28th for the race. "We've been pretty close here lately. It just sucks when you have one locked up like that and a caution comes out. That's the way it goes and we weren't good enough on restarts. Just wasn't good enough tonight."

"I guess there will be plenty of positives tomorrow. It's tough losing when you haven't won in a long time. People keep asking, 'When are you going to win? When are you going to win?' We're close. Just sucks we couldn't get it done tonight."

Winning the race was Denny Hamlin. He edged out Jeff Gordon by 0.378 seconds. Brad Keselowski, Truex and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five finishers.

The NAPA AUTO PARTS team returns to action Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.

After Saturday's Richmond race, the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field will be set. The top 10 in points will earn Chase berths, as will the Wild Cards - the two drivers outside the top 10 with the most wins. All 12 drivers will have their points reset to 2,000, but only those in the top 10 will have three points added to their total for each win during the first 26 races. Those point totals will set the Chase seeds. Ties will be broken per the rule book (number of wins, then seconds, then thirds, etc.). The two Wild Cards will automatically be seeded 11th and 12th. The 10-race Chase begins Sept. 16 in Chicago and ends Nov. 18 in Homestead, Fla.