Martin Truex Jr. felt he had a second-place car behind Kyle Busch, and that’s where he wound up in the Coca-Cola 600.
And that was even after having to come from behind twice — once for speeding on pit road and then being called for an uncontrolled tire. So Truex wasn’t wondering what could have been when Busch dominated the event, saying instead it was a night where his Furniture Row Racing team fought until the end.
“I think that last run we were catching him a bit there, but I think he was just managing his lead and taking care of his tires,” said Truex. “We were just off a little bit tonight but definitely gaining on it, and hopefully we can get some more wins here soon.”
Truex did not lead a single lap Sunday night. It was the first time in his now five Coca-Cola 600s that he was shut out, having led a combined 756 laps in the others.
The defending series champion also admitted he felt “OK” about the position of his No. 78 Toyota team at the halfway point in the regular season. While Truex is not enjoying the same type of success he had a year ago, he knows some of it has been because of a string of races where he had a fast car but not the corresponding results.
“We had a tough few weeks there, like four straight bad races, which is tough,” Truex said of finishing 37th (Texas), 30th (Bristol), 14th (Richmond) and 26th (Talladega). “So it was hard to see exactly where we stacked up and now we’ve had a couple of top-fives in a row. But hadn’t had that winning speed, so we’re still off a little bit.”
“I think the 4 [Kevin Harvick] was really fast tonight until he had his tire issue. Not sure if some of the speed had caused the tire issue, or it was one of those fluke things, but he was definitely really fast before that. And obviously, the 18 hit it really good tonight, and they’ve had a strong season.
“I feel like we’re in decent shape — still learning a little bit about the rules this year, the new splitter deal. The last four weeks I feel like has hurt us some and definitely made it more difficult to pass and come through traffic. Tonight was definitely a difficult test because of that, but I thought we were somewhat as fast as Kyle maybe on the short runs. Just maybe not the long runs. So we’re not too far off, we just need to keep digging.”
With Sunday’s result, Truex is now working on a string of three consecutive top-four finishes.