Atlanta II: Martin Truex Jr race report

Truex 31st at Atlanta Martin Truex Jr. dominated Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500 -- leading a race-high 135 laps -- but finished 31st after making contact with the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin on a late-race restart. Truex started 20th in the event...

Truex 31st at Atlanta

Martin Truex Jr. dominated Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500 -- leading a race-high 135 laps -- but finished 31st after making contact with the No. 11 of Denny Hamlin on a late-race restart.

Truex started 20th in the event but quickly show the dominance of his Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet. He moved into the top five on lap 25 and took the lead a few laps later. Truex was pleased with the performance of his car and wasn't shy about sharing his enthusiasm with crew chief Kevin Manion.

"Man, this car is fast," Truex said. "I feel like I can pull away from these guys at any time." "I hear ya," replied Manion. "You're racing right now as fast as your qualified."

Truex would run in the lead pack until pitting under caution on lap 318 when the No. 70 car of Johnny Sauter blew a tire, depositing debris on the track. Manion called Truex down pit road for four fresh tires and a splash of fuel. He would reenter the race in 10th because some of the leaders, like Hamlin, didn't pit or only took on two tires.

The race restarted on lap 322 with Hamlin leading the field. Unfortunately, he ran out of gas as the field was taking the green, sending the cars behind him scrambling. Truex tried to avoid him but was unable to do so. The Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet was done for the day because of the extensive damage to the front end.

"Man, I really can't believe it," said Truex. "We had an awesome car today and we deserved to win that race. I just hate it for all the guys. They keep giving me great cars every week and something always seems to happen to us. To dominate like we did and then to have it end like this is depressing.

"We've been in slumps before and come out of them. I'm sure we'll do the same this time."

-credit: dei

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup