Had he not run out of fuel, Martin Truex Jr. says he had enough car left to get to Chase Elliott — but not to pass him.
Truex hounded Elliott for the entirety of the final 32-lap run to the finish and closed the gap to under one second with less than 15 laps to go. But for as hard as he pushed and closed, Truex could do nothing with Elliott and wound up running himself out of gas on the final lap.
“I could get right to him, I chased him down from a ways back after that restart [with 32 left],” Truex said. “I took a little too long to get around the 41 [Kurt Busch]. [Chase] got a lead on us, I just tried all I could to chase him down, and I got there with plenty of time; it’s just every time I’d start putting together some good corners and get close enough to him to even think about making a move, I’d get sideways behind him. He did a good job of putting his car exactly where it needed to be and not making a mistake.
“I was too loose all day on exit on all the corners. I couldn’t get the power down good enough, and running behind him there, just burned my rear tires off trying to make something happen.”
When Elliott went wide in Turn 1 on the final lap, Truex was too far back to capitalize. Then Truex says he missed the bus stop to lose more ground.
“We ran out of gas anyway coming off of Turn 5 that last lap, so it was really all a moot point,” Truex said. “He was going to win regardless. Congrats to him on his first win. That’s a big deal for those guys, and they’ve been so close. Chase did a great job, and they earned it, so congrats to them.”
Truex said he was not surprised Elliott went mistake-free during the final run, saying he’s “an experienced driver now.”
As the defending race winner and Sonoma victor earlier this year, Truex was looking to become the first driver since Tony Stewart in 2004-05 to win three consecutive road course races. Truex led just four laps Sunday afternoon.