Truex dominates, but misses out on win: "That stings a little bit"

Martin Truex Jr. lost the battle at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Truex dominates, but misses out on win: "That stings a little bit"
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
The grid
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota

However, he gained the Monster Energy Cup Series point lead as his consolation prize.

For the third time in as many Coca-Cola 600s, Truex had the dominant car and led the most laps (233). But pit strategy didn’t play out in the team’s favor and he had to settle for third-place behind race winner Austin Dillon and second—place Kyle Busch.

“That stings a little bit, but can’t say enough about the guys on the team and everybody in Denver,” Truex said. “Everybody on this Bass Pro Toyota did a heck of a job today. We just – we missed it a little bit on our last adjustment. I think if not for that we probably could’ve gotten the 3 (Dillon).

“And then lapped traffic is just so tough here. There’s a few guys out there that you don’t ever know where they’re going to be when you get to the corner and it cost you so much time trying to pass them, ultimately that’s what got us. It is what it is. Like I said, we’re proud of everybody at TRD, at Toyota, Bass Pro and all the partners. Just came up a little short tonight.”

Truex dodged a bullet early in the race. He rolled off eighth and was running in that position when an accident occurred between Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski on the front stretch. Truex and Jimmie Johnson narrowly missed sliding into the wreckage. Truex cycled out to the lead on Lap 75 after green flag pit stops and went on to finish second in the first stage.

He gained the lead out of the pits again for Stage 2 and led all but five laps in that segment. Truex also led the first 48 circuits in Stage 3. Although he lost the lead to Johnson in the pits, he was back at the point four laps later. Kyle Larson’s misfortune on Lap 292 —when he blew a tire and ended up in the garage — slowed Truex’s progress. He was jammed up on the Lap 295 restarts when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. remained on the track with old tires. Inevitably, had to settle for fourth in Stage 3. However, Truex inherited the points lead after Larson was scored 33rd.

Despite starting fourth for the final segment on Lap 307, Truex returned to the point on Lap 330. But it was short-lived after Danica Patrick triggered the ninth and final caution. Truex was easily able to take the lead from Kyle Busch on the final restart (Lap 334), but relinquished the point to pit after Lap 367.

“Last three years, that’s two of them we lost on full mileage, so that kind of stinks, but big picture-wise it was a good night,” Truex said. “The Bass Pro Toyota was fast. The guys did a phenomenal job all night long. Got behind a few times, fall back, got the lead and then just – fuel mileage didn’t play out our way. We were a little too loose that last run as well and I think had we not been, we probably could’ve chased (Dillon) down.

“We may have caught him on the last lap, but overall I mean, can’t say enough about the team and what they’re doing. Tonight was tough, man. The cars were a handful. I drove my butt off, but it wasn’t to be tonight.”

Truex enjoys a five-point lead over Larson in the Cup standings. After 12 races, he’s also earned the most stage wins (six) and playoff points (16). Truex, Johnson and Keselowski are tied for most series wins with two each.

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