Martin Truex Jr. says his Furniture Row Racing team will not be around the playoffs long enough to defend their championship if things don’t change.
Truex finished 11th in at Darlington Raceway after spending 175 laps trying to get back on the lead lap. He fell behind when assessed a penalty on lap 170 for a tire violation that had occurred on his lap 169 pit stop.
NASCAR officials call such a penalty when a tire is not within arm’s length of a crew member. In Truex’s case, the right front tire was left behind when the front tire changer finished his work and moved to the left side of the car, and the jackman was also not within arm’s distance of the tire.
To add insult to injury, later in the race Truex complained of a loose wheel even after the team had said they were sure all the lug nuts were tight.
It took until the race’s final caution with 24 laps to go before Truex got back on the lead lap.
“It’s really disappointing to have a car that good, to be up front and have that many troubles on pit road,” Truex said. “It’s pretty disappointing. We have to clean it up – playoffs are coming. We do that in the playoffs, and we’ll be out in the second round.”
The 2016 Southern 500 winner, Truex did have a shot to get his lap back at the end of Stage 2. Leader Kyle Larson lapped Austin Dillon right at the finish line, which made Dillon the first car one lap down who then immediately got his lap back. Who had been running in the free pass position until that happened? Truex.
Before his troubles, Truex showed he had a solid top-five car and his 30 laps led were the second-most in the race behind Larson’s 284. Truex also finished third in Stage 1.