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Truex Jr. upstages Bowyer in homecoming

October 22, 2012, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com



Truex Jr. upstages Bowyer in homecoming

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A driver from Michael Waltrip Racing was in the mix to win Sunday at Kansas Speedway -- just not the one everyone thought it would be.

Martin Truex Jr. followed up his strong effort at the same facility in April with a runner-up finish on the resurfaced 1.5-mile track. The No. 56 driver tied his best result of the season, which occurred in a spring race at Kansas. He led 173 laps and seemed in line for the victory until the handling on his vehicle went away at the end.

"Restarts kind of killed us all day long, but we gained on them, but not near enough."

--CLINT BOWYER

"After the first one I was disappointed. [Sunday], I'm happy with my team and my race car we had all day. We really had to battle for this one," Truex said.

"We didn't have a second place car there for a while. Fought track position most of the day. We started 16th. Didn't qualify all that well. Worked our way up to the top five early. Got caught by [a] caution. Had to get the wave around, all that. We came from the back to finish second, which is really hard to do at a place like this, where it's hard to pass, new pavement, the restarts pretty tough. Good battle for us [Sunday]. The guys did a really nice job. Nice to come out of here with a good finish. Looking forward to the rest of the season."

His teammate didn't seem nearly as pleased. Clint Bowyer came to Kansas with high hopes on many fronts, given that the facility is the hometown track of a driver who grew up in Emporia. Bowyer also was coming off a victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway that moved him up to fourth in the Chase standings, and he had hoped to further wedge his way into the Sprint Cup championship battle.

He wound up finishing sixth and gaining just three points. "We've just got to keep digging," said Bowyer, now 25 behind Brad Keselowski. "You've got to keep gaining on them. I was hoping to gain a little bit more than that, but we had a solid day ... just frustrating, though."

Bowyer enjoyed his best finish at Kansas since he finished second in 2007, but he seemed far from thrilled about it, although he started third and spent most of the day in the top 10.

"It was just a long day, frustrating," he said. "I think I started on the outside one time early in the race, and just every time it just killed me. We were obviously set up for fuel mileage and after the cautions kept coming, it just kept digging us more and more in the hole. Restarts kind of killed us all day long, but we gained on them, but not near enough."

Sunday marked the best result of a disappointing Chase for Truex, who despite four top-10s in six races had found it difficult to gain any ground on the leaders. His Kansas effort moved him up one spot in the standings to sixth, although he's still 43 points behind Keselowski.

"There's always a chance," he said. "As long as there's more racing to go, there's always a chance. Obviously, we're further back than we want to be. You can't change that. Those races are behind us now. We just have to do what we did [Sunday], which is try to go out and win races. We definitely want to win before the year is out, our team. We've been close, let a couple slip away. We go each weekend to the race track and try to be a good help for our teammates, try to do the best job we can to put all three of our cars up in the front. That's what we're going to continue to do."

Bowyer remains on the cusp of championship contention, although a season-high and track-record 14 caution flags made it tough for him to build any momentum. It all added up to make his homecoming not quite as enjoyable as he had hoped.

"If we got hung up on the bottom every restart, it was worth a position, maybe two, and it just wasn't much fun," he said. "But it is what it is. I don't know what the hell was going on behind us. They kept wrecking. It seemed like every 20 laps we would have a caution. That wasn't much fun."