Between a caution with three to go, and contact right after the subsequent restart, it just wasn’t Martin Truex Jr.’s night. Again. That contact in the final restart of the night at Richmond Raceway happened with the No. 11 driven by Denny Hamlin — a Toyota Racing Development (TRD) teammate.
Hamlin took the blame for the contact with just a few laps to go in the 2017 Federated Auto Parts 400 at the Richmond Raceway night race.
“We both drove in really, really deep,” Hamlin said.
“When I got on the brakes, the splitter slammed down on the ground, shot me up the track into him. We weren’t racing for the win or anything. But it’s unfortunate. Didn’t want to get into him. He’s a great teammate of ours.”
Frustration Aimed at NASCAR, Not Hamlin
In Martin Truex, Jr.’s post-race press conference he said he was less upset at the contact with Hamlin, and more about the caution thrown that forced the late race caution.
“…tonight sucks, plain and simple, just the way it ended up. You’re out there domination like this, you know your car is not very good on restarts for a couple laps. Caution for a guy that shouldn’t even be out there is kind of ridiculous,” Truex said.
Struggling All Race
Hamlin said it was a tough race for the No. 11 FedEx Toyota team.
“Overnight we messed it up pretty good. We struggled all day. Got a little bit better there at the end by just kind of going back to where we started the day. Definitely not a car that could contend.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 team’s progress came by undoing a lot of the adjustments they made through the course of the Richmond race.
“We were trying to make it better, but it was just getting worse and worse,” the JGR driver said.
“It was a miserable day actually. They tell me I’m a hero around here. Today I was a clown.”
Hamlin qualified on the outside pole, next to teammate Matt Kenseth. Despite the contact, he brought the No. 11 FedEx Toyota home in 5th place. He enters the first round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs as the 7th seed with 2013 points.