Martin Truex Jr. finally seemed to get things turned around at Dover – sort of.
Truex rolled into Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway having dropped from second to ninth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings thanks to wrecking out of three of the last four races.
The one race he did finish in that span (at Richmond, Va.), he ended up an unimpressive 14th.
His fourth-place finish at Dover – the track on which he scored his first series win – seemed like a welcome reprieve.
But even that could have been even better.
Truex qualified third and was running second with approximately 25 laps remaining in the first stage. As he was chasing down the leader at the time (Kevin Harvick) for the stage win, Truex was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop under green for a flat tire.
He ended up back to the middle of the pack and one lap down. The incident also shut Truex out of picking up points in Stage 1.
“I thought we were pretty good at the beginning of the race and lost that lap and had to come from the back. Just really hard to pass here,” Truex said.
“Our car was fast in clean air, but I couldn’t pass anybody – especially those last 200 laps once we got somewhere up towards the front. So, it was all about where we come off pit road and how we restarted and it’s frustrating.
“We just couldn’t seem to make the car turn off the corner all day long. It was tight from the get-go and that really hindered me in traffic.”
Although Truex’s issues with car handling in traffic proved very frustrating for he and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team, the reigning series champion tried to remain upbeat.
“The pit crew did a good job and with all the frustration with the handling (and) we still managed to finish fourth,” he said. “That says a lot about this race team.”