Reigning champ Truex among those in playoff trouble
After setting himself apart as one of the ‘Big 3’ throughout most of the NASCAR Cup Series season, reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. is in danger of falling out of playoffs.
After Sunday’s wild finish at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, several drivers are in need of a win or strong performance next week at Kansas Speedway if they want to advance to Round 3.
Chevrolet drivers Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson must win if they want to stay alive to the Round of 8 while Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney are also on the outside looking in with one race remaining in the second round.
What’s surprising is Truex sits in the final transfer spot, 18 points ahead of Keselowski heading to Kansas next week.
“I think that’s a good place for us even if we had to win,” said Truex of Kansas. “I am not saying we’re going to go there and win. But anytime we can go to any of those tracks, I feel like we have a shot. It’s racing.
“A lot can happen as we saw today. We’ll give it everything we got and bring a great car to Kansas. We’ll try to get the checkered flag.”
For Keselowski, the finish of the race was tough to handle after running in the top-10 for most of the race. He was forced to pit before the start of overtime due to low fuel pressure.
“We ran out of gas from what I could tell, so we’ll go through and look at it and see,” he said.
The shuffle in overtime relegated Keselowski to a 27th-place finish and forcing him to have a strong run at Kansas and perhaps a little bad luck for those in front of him.
“It’s certainly not ideal, but it is what it is,” he said.
Larson recovered from an early spin at Talladega to finish 11th but couldn’t hide his frustration about the race Sunday.
“We just had a terrible race car and were really slow all weekend,” said Larson. “We were able to salvage a decent finish, but the Fords are so fast here and can rack up a lot of stage points. Even when they have a bad day, they still gain points on us.
“It is what it is. We’ll just go to Kansas and try and win.”
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