Race Weekend Central

‘It’s Getting Old’: Martin Truex Jr. Tired of Late Cautions Not Going His Way

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Martin Truex Jr. was once again snake-bitten by a late-race caution.

The veteran NASCAR Cup Series driver was tracking down Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin late in the going of the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway Sunday night (May 5). He had mowed his way through the field to get up to second, the fastest car on track, but then the caution flag flew for a spin by Kyle Busch with seven laps remaining.

Truex then dropped to 10th after taking four tires on the final caution flag stop that followed; nine cars took two tires and came out ahead of him. The driver of the No. 19 Toyota still passed a ton of cars, but with the race resuming as a two-lap shootout, Truex only got to fourth.

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“I don’t know, just frustrating,” Truex said. “We were looking really good until that last caution, as always. I don’t know what we need to do to close one out, but the guys did a good job with our Auto-Owners Camry.

“We were in position to steal one there. Definitely had the best car, but fought hard all night, made good decisions and made the car better and better. That was great, but always stinks when you see the lead and can’t get it.”

Truex’s crew chief James Small was equally as disappointed.

“Yeah, no doubt, we were gonna win the race for sure,” Small told Frontstretch. “It’s just another race with a late-race caution that we kind of get screwed by, but it is what it is.”

It’s the second race this season where Truex seemed poised to win only to have a caution thwart it. At Richmond Raceway in March, he was dominating when a yellow flag came out late. That time, he lost because Hamlin got by on the overtime restart.

The circumstances here were different, but the theme of having one taken away remained the same.

“It was ours to lose at that point, and the caution came out,” Truex said of the Kansas finish. “Kind of typical, you know, anytime I feel like we have a chance to win one of these things we have a late caution and it doesn’t go — I guess we should’ve tried two tires, I don’t know. But yeah, didn’t work out.”

The scoresheet won’t show how good Truex was at the end of the race. He didn’t lead a single lap and just finished seventh and fifth in the stages.

But in the final run, many drivers were saving fuel or had used their tires up. That is where Truex came on strong. He was within one second of leader Hamlin when the final caution flew.

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When asked if he would’ve caught and passed Hamlin, Truex said, “Oh God, yeah.

“I caught him like crazy in the last — the last lap before the caution, I caught him 50 car lengths. So yeah, it was over, no question.”

Small said that he wasn’t banking on so many cars taking two tires on the final pit stop.

“Obviously, who knows what would happen had we done the other way,” he said.

Truex made up several spots on the first lap of the final restart, but then stalled out on the final lap, finishing just behind four cars that could be held under a blanket. Some late contact with Chase Elliott also hampered him coming to the finish line.

“Just trying to find somewhere to go, you know?” Truex said. “Restarting from 10th with four tires is tough to do in two laps. Just needed to clear the No. 9 [Elliott] a little quicker and needed to get into [turn] 3 single file, and then I probably had a chance, but we were two-wide and that made me tight off turn 4. Couldn’t quite get the run I needed to get to the win.”

Small also wished his JGR teammate had cut them a little slack after he was beaten on the final restart.

“I think if we could’ve cleared the No. 11 [Hamlin] faster there, if he could’ve given us a little bit of a break, we would’ve won the race there as well, I think,” Small said. “Just took a little too long to get past a couple of cars, and that was the end of it. Obviously got driven into the wall a little bit and kind of lost our momentum.”

Had another caution came out and led to another restart, Truex might’ve taken the checkered flag.

“Another lap, it’s ours,” Small said. “Another restart, it’s ours.”

Still, finishing fourth was a decent consolation prize. It gave Truex his fourth top five and seventh top 10 through the one-third mark of the season. His current average finish of 8.9 would be the best of his career if it holds, leaving him second in points, 29 points behind Kyle Larson.

“It’s only a matter of time,” Small said. “You can’t run in contention to win races and it not go your way. Eventually, our time will come. I’m not stressed. We’re in a good spot in the championship.”

Truex, however, cared much less about having a solid points day.

“Points are great, just we need to win,” Truex said. “I want to win soon. It’s getting old.”

Follow @m_massie22

About the author

Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

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Echo

Haven’t you had enough of the disrespect from your teammate yet !! Take him out back and have a talk with him.

Steve

So is anyone going to address the pretty suspicious caution brought out by Busch in the end and the ridiculous rule (or non rule) that doesn’t force they guy bringing out the caution to the rear of the field on the next restart? On the overtime restart I watched to see where Busch started. I believe it was 19th. He ended up finishing 8th, so basically no repercussions for bringing out the final caution and changing the outcome of the race.

Sorry, he did the same thing earlier in the season (can’t remember which track) so I don’t believe for a second that one of the best drivers of our generation “lost it” all by himself with a few laps to go not once but twice.

Bill B

Yeah, I thought it was suspicious for Busch to spin out at that particular moment as well. I would be fine with a rule that would force anyone who spins out on their own to the rear of the field. Especially when it’s in the last 10 laps.

DoninAjax

And a Reverend Joe car leading too. Any hard feelings coming out?

John

Gee, Martin. Maybe Denny thought he could have a shot a winning, too. No one fighting for a good position at the end lays over for another guy. Would you like some cheese with that whine?

Bill B

You’re right he shouldn’t whine about it. He should just ride Hamlin up into the wall, like Hamlin has done to so many others.

wildcatsfan2016

Yes! with all the aero push that goes on at these big tracks, it could easily have been an oops moment.

Of course if you’re going to opt to do that, you have to be willing to live with the consequences of it. Sometimes you wreck yourself instead of the car you were aiming at.

Last edited 11 days ago by wildcatsfan2016
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