Truex gives his all, but can't quite match Hendrick cars at the finish

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Truex gives his all, but can't quite match Hendrick cars at the finish

NASCAR

Truex gives his all, but can't quite match Hendrick cars at the finish

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Despite leading the most laps at Watkins Glen, Martin Truex Jr. said he needed “a little bit of everything” to beat the two Hendrick Motorsports drivers who finished ahead of him.

Truex led a race-high 34 of 90 laps and won the second stage of the Go Bowling at The Glen. But Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota crossed the finish line third after not having the pace to challenge Kyle Larson to win or hold off Chase Elliott.

“Honestly, I felt like through the esses and through the carousel, off the carousel was my weakest point,” Truex said. “I just couldn’t quite turn as good as them in Turn 2, and then Turn 3, I would get loose and couldn’t get the power down at all off the carousel. Just a little bit of everything. When I asked it to turn, they would out-turn me, and when I ask it to go, they’re out-going me. Nonetheless, all the guys did a great job.

“We had a fill-in tire changer on the front (because of COVID protocols), and he did a good job, so thanks to him. Overall, it was a solid day for our Reser’s Fine Foods Camry. … Just need to find some more. We were second to those two guys at Sonoma as well. I think the 20 (Christopher Bell) had a good car as well, but those two (Larson and Elliott) were just strong. I don’t know exactly how we’re going to get there, but we’re going to keep working.”

A former Watkins Glen winner, Truex controlled the race going into the final round of green-flag pit stops. However, Larson eliminated Truex’s advantage on the entry to pit road and then beat Truex out of the pits. When the cycles were complete, Larson had the advantage over Truex and didn’t give it back. Elliott overtook Truex with nine laps to go.

“It was quite a battle,” Truex said. “James (Small, crew chief) did a great job with our Reser’s Fine Foods Camry to get track position to put us where we needed to be. We didn’t quite have the speed on the longer runs to take advantage of that track position. We tried hard, and thanks to everybody for working hard.

“We’re a little behind those two (Larson and Elliott) right now on road courses; they’re really, really fast. I just had to burn my tires off to try to stay with them, and then in 20 laps, they’re gone. Heck of a fight, but we’ll take a third — or a ‘podium’ as they say in road course racing — and go to work and try to get better.”

The Cup Series will contest the Indianapolis road course for the first time next weekend. The final road course race of the season is the Charlotte Roval in the playoffs.

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