Martin Truex Jr. was mad at Jimmie Johnson after their last-lap contact on the Charlotte road course, but wanted to clear up why he went as far as spinning Johnson out on the cool-down lap.
Truex spoke to NBC Sports during the Saturday morning practice broadcast at Dover with a smile, saying he and Johnson talked about 20 minutes after the race. Johnson locked up the brakes in the frontstretch chicane and spun into Truex, sending them both for a ride while Ryan Blaney snuck by for the victory.
“I was mad, of course, it’s natural,” Truex said. “It’s human to get mad in situations like that. That was a big race. That was a big day. We put so much effort into that and there was so many things surrounding that race that made it special to me and reasons I wanted to win, mostly for my guys and the effort they put in.
“But yeah, I was mad about the outcome and the way it went down. I was not mad at all – and I think people got the wrong impression – I was not mad at all about Jimmie trying to win, that’s his job, that’s what we all try to do every single weekend. He was trying to win the race, I get that. I was mad that he screwed up.”
Driving a teal No. 78 Toyota for Cancer Awareness Month, Truex likely had girlfriend Sherry Pollex in mind. The car honored her and all those fighting ovarian cancer, and through Truex’s foundation the two are continually raising money and awareness for ovarian and childhood cancer.
Furniture Row Racing is also in the homestretch of its final races as the organization will cease operations at season’s end. Truex, the defending winner at Charlotte, not only would have been the inaugural winner of the Charlotte road course but would have earned additional playoff points in his pursuit of a second title.
“So I told him, I give you a lane,” Truex said of the conversation between the two series champions. “I got tight in NASCAR Turn 4, and I was like well I’m not just going to try to slow down and block him, brake check him or whatever, I’m going to give him the inside lane because I don’t want him on my right side because if I give him the right side he’s probably going to clean me out. I gave myself the best opportunity that I thought to win and I also gave him a chance to be able to make a move to win and he screwed it up, and that’s why I was mad, and that’s what I told him. And he perfectly understood, absolutely.
“But, I love that guy. He’s one of the best ever. He’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I have a ton of respect for him; we get along really well. I just told him that I was mad that he screwed up, so don’t screw up next time. That’s all I’m saying.”
Johnson was shell-shocked at being eliminated from the playoffs, upset the move not only affected his day but Truex’s as well. On Friday at Dover, Johnson said that still weighed on him. Truex understood why Johnson was beating himself up.
“A guy like that doesn’t make mistakes like that very often,” Truex said. “Just shows how difficult [Charlotte] was.”