Martin Truex Jr. had to overcome a number of challenges just to finish ninth in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Truex Jr. had to start at the rear of the field Sunday when the team changed an engine after qualifying. The Furniture Row Racing driver was able to move up through the field and get inside the top 10.
But a series of problems ranging from a loose wheel to a penalty for driving through too many stalls on the pit stop derailed Truex Jr.’s quest to lock himself into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I’m telling you, God is testing us,” said Truex Jr., who is still above the cutline by 25 points heading into the final race of the Round of 8. “There’s no question. Had to start at the back, got to the front, hung around there for a while and then had a loose wheel there again. Just a tough day. Overall, a good day. Luckily we were able to get up front and get some stage points in the first two stages and then we had trouble, but we had it at least in time to recover.
“Proud of everybody on this Bass Pro/5-hour ENERGY Toyota and feel like we’re in decent shape going to Phoenix. We’ll go there and race hard again and see what we can do.”
Truex Jr. remains optimistic about his chances to run for a second straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship but admits there’s work to be done.
“I think we need a little more speed to run with the Fords – they’re clearly really, really fast right now,” he said.
“If this is last year, they would all be complaining that we’re too fast so I don’t know if I should do a (Brad) Keselowski and start whining about it or not. They’re really fast and if we’re off just a little bit we can’t run with them. We were off a little bit today. On the short run, they were really fast, but on the long run I thought we were as good as anybody, but just never got to show it. Track position was so, so hard to get.”