Despite winning the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season, and entering the 2017 playoffs as the number one seed with a sizable lead, Martin Truex, Jr. didn’t feel much like celebrating after the Richmond Raceway night race last night.
For the second race in a row, Truex saw a dominant performance erased in the last laps of the race, both times via damaged race cars.
“Two weeks in a row to be leading right at the end and lose it. That’s the way it goes,” Truex said.
Last week at the 2017 running of the Southern 500, Truex got into the wall in the concluding laps, allowing Denny Hamlin to go to victory lane at Darlington Raceway. The two names were intertwined again last night as Hamlin and Truex fought for second place in a green-white-checkered situation.
After doing photos and media surrounding the 2017 playoffs, the number 78 driver entered the Richmond Raceway media center visibly upset. Most of his frustration was aimed at NASCAR, rather than Hamlin, who he said he spoke to after the race.
“I know he didn’t do it on purpose. He jumped on the brakes, got on the splitter. [I] gave him room, but he was aggressive on the brakes. That stuff happens.”
Final Race Caution
Truex said it was the caution he was really upset about. With mere laps left in the race, the Premium Motorsports No. 15 got in the wall, and NASCAR threw a caution flag, much to the frustration of many of the teams — including Truex’s.
“I wish we could have got the trophy last weekend,” Truex said.
“…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.”
While it had to be coaxed out of him, Truex did admit there were positives coming out of the race — one that historically has not been one of his best on the MENCS circuit
“… we worked hard. We had a game plan coming here. We worked hard on it,” he said.
He said he felt good about the changes that came out of Friday’s pair of practices, and he felt they were going in the right direction.
Truex said they were getting the balance that Truex had been looking for at the race track for years.
“Tonight throughout the race, we just kept getting it a little bit better each pit stop. The last 150, 200 laps, it was lights out. Nobody could touch us after 10 laps in a run,” Truex said.
Regular Season Points
Martin Truex, Jr. ends the regular season with 53 bonus points, but he was quick to note that he should had an extra five more had the race stayed green.