Martin Truex Jr. has won three races since the middle of April, but he’s had just as many bad days in that time frame.
Sunday at Pocono Raceway, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver made an early exit in the 400-mile event after he reported something had gone wrong under the hood of his No. 19 Toyota. Rolling down pit road in a trail of smoke, the Cole Pearn-led team determined their day was done just as Stage 2 wound down.
“Off the Tunnel Turn, it kind of sputtered a little bit and I thought for a minute it was running out of gas; but I could see the smoke trailing,” Truex said in the garage. “I don’t know — dropped a valve or broke a valve spring or something like that. It self-destructed pretty quick, so I came right into the pits, and as I went down pit road, I pretty much knew our day was done.
“Definitely frustrating. The Bass Pro Toyota was really fast; we just never could get any track position and we battled that. But we had a good car. There were steering box issues; I felt like there was somebody under the hood steering the thing for me, and that’s not very fun going into the corners here.
“We’ll rebound. Just one of those days. Got to thank TRD for some great engines all year; this is just a bump in the road. Hopefully, we’ll get it figured out and it won’t happen again.”
Truex finished ninth in Stage 1. Pocono will be only his second DNF of the season.
Not only was True the defending Pocono winner, he entered the weekend fresh off a victory in the Coca-Cola 600. Courtesy of his three wins, Truex is safely inside the postseason picture.
Since winning at Richmond — his first victory of the season — Truex has finished 20th at Talladega, first at Dover, 19th at Kansas, first at Charlotte, and will be credited with a finish outside the top 30 once the checkered flag falls at Pocono.