Martin Truex Jr. could only muster a laugh about the late speeding penalty that took away his shot at the victory in the Food City 400 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I thought I was exactly where I was the time before, so the time before must have been close,” Truex said with a chuckle. “Typically, we don’t get many speeding penalties, but today we were just pushing the issue trying to get a win. Sometimes it’ll get you.”
Truex led 116 of 500 laps in the Monday event, which was postponed due to rain. It didn’t take long for the Furniture Row Racing driver to make his presence known, with a strong run inside the top five through the first half of the race. After winning the second stage (his fifth of the season), Truex was still wearing down the competition when he was busted for speeding.
It negated him being the first car off pit road – and restarting as the leader – on the race’s final pit stop with 35 laps to go. Truex finished a bittersweet eighth instead of challenging eventual winner Jimmie Johnson for his first Bristol victory.
“We were going for it,” he said. “Wish we could have had a shot there just to see if we could have won … Best run we’ve had here in a long time. It’s bittersweet. Wish we could have seen if we could have beat the 48 (Johnson). We were really, really close right there before that last caution. It is what it is. You’re trying to get all you can get, and sometimes you cross the line. Today we crossed the line.”
Truex said he would be interested to see the data from the stop to see how far over the speed limit he was. Although he has a feeling it was close and “it’s going to hurt my feelings a lot.”
The good news from the day was that Truex felt his team had made gains at the half-mile. Perhaps not the best car – he repeatedly said he wasn’t sure if he could have beaten Johnson – Truex did feel he was the best on the bottom. Plus, it wasn’t lost on Truex that despite the speeding penalty, he earned just his third top-10 finish at Bristol in his 23rd start.
“To come here to Bristol and run that good is a good sign for us,” Truex said. “We’ve had some strong cars here the last few times and no finishes to show for it, so, fortunately, today we at least got a decent finish. Not as good as we should have; we ran strong, and they knew we were here.”