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Truex Jr. won't let injury hurt chase dreams

August 30, 2013, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com

Truex Jr. won't let injury hurt chase dreams
Truex Jr. has high hopes that his injury won't set him and his teammates back from their chance at the Chase

HAMPTON, Ga. – It’s been a miserable week for Martin Truex Jr., a right-handed guy trying to learn to get by as a southpaw.

“Can’t fish. Bummer,” said Truex Jr., an avid outdoorsman who is as likely to be found out on Lake Norman as he is behind the wheel of the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.

“This was probably one of the most boring weeks of my life. And I’m not really good as a lefty, so the things I have to do at the house … are not much fun.”

Truex Jr., suffered a scaphoid fracture and sprain on his right wrist when he was involved in a multicar crash on lap 447 of last week’s 500-lap Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

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On Friday, he showed up at Atlanta Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Advocare 500, sporting a blue cast.

The injury “doesn’t change anything for us,” he said. “We’re going to race these next two races as hard as we can and try to get ourselves in that chase and we’ll do whatever it takes.”

Truex Jr. and his No. 56 team are two races away from a second consecutive appearance in the 10-race Chase For The Sprint Cup. A winner earlier this season at Sonoma Raceway, he holds the top spot among Wild Card hopefuls (those outside the top-10 in points), but is far from guaranteed.

The injury presents a bit of a problem, when what he needs is a bit of a cushion. A trio of drivers, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon, are ahead of Truex Jr. in points and a win by any of the three this weekend could put a kink in his team’s playoff plans.

The 12-team field will be set following next week’s stop at Richmond International Raceway.

“I’ve never driven hurt before,” said Truex Jr., a Chase participant last season as well as in 2007 while with Dale Earnhardt Inc. “I’ve never been hurt in a race car before, but the first lap out on the track, I felt really good and everything has gone well today. 

The injury occurred after Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Kevin Harvick (Richard Childress Racing) crashed in front of Truex Jr., sending his car hard into the wall. Hamlin suffered a sprained thumb.

“I think what happened was I basically hit the wall with the right front and the 29 (of Harvick) hit my left front at the exact same time,” Truex Jr. said. “I think it just turned both wheels the same way. It was kind of like one of those weird instances where everything happens that you don't want to and it just ripped the wheel out of my hand and … obviously, I'm sure I tried to get my hand out of there. I just wasn't quick enough. It happened so fast.

“That's the best I could come up with based on what I remember from the crash, watching the in-car footage. It looked like I tried to get my hand out of there, just didn't do it quick enough.”

Truex Jr. said he was told the healing time for such an injury is “roughly six weeks.” The cast was applied while he held a steering wheel in order to duplicate the position his hand would be in while in the car.

Fellow driver Scott Speed was asked to stand by in case the injury was too painful, but Truex Jr. said there is a “99 percent chance that I will race the whole race.”

“The biggest challenge right now is still all the parts that were sprained,” he said. “My fingers still hurt. My knuckles are still kind of tender, so shifting is a little bit of an issue as far as the pain goes.

“But as far as driving the car, I was surprised at how good it felt and how normal it felt.”

Truex Jr. led 40 laps en route to a fourth-place finish here a year ago. He was seventh fastest in Friday’s lone practice.

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