News & Media

Truex Jr. recapturing some early season form

August 11, 2012, David Caraviello,

No. 56 driver used late-charging car, crazy finish for strong Pocono result

LONG POND, Pa. -- Martin Truex Jr. is still looking for his first victory with Michael Waltrip Racing. With the Chase rapidly approaching, he'll settle for his best finish in more than three months.

Truex took advantage of a wreck-filled restart to charge up to third place in what proved the waning laps of Sunday's Pennsylvania 400, and held on to that position when the event at Pocono Raceway was shortened by rain. The driver of the No. 56 car led a solid showing by the MWR organization that also included an eighth-place finish by Clint Bowyer and a 12th-place result by Mark Martin.

""I feel like we're in a good place. ... We're still not exactly where we'd like to be. We'd like to get in Victory Lane. I felt like if we could have had a shot at the restart today, we might have had a shot at it."


While it wasn't a victory -- he's still looking for a follow-up to his maiden Sprint Cup win five years ago in Dover -- it was the kind of strong run he wanted to see with only five races remaining in the circuit's "regular season." Truex started 15th and his Toyota gradually improved over the course of a race that was delayed by rain for two hours at the start, and then shortened by 62 laps by rain at the finish.

"I feel like we're in a good place," said Truex, who has scored back-to-back top-10s at Indianapolis and Pocono. "We had great speed today. We had good speed last week. We're still not exactly where we'd like to be. We'd like to get in Victory Lane. I felt like if we could have had a shot at the restart today, we might have had a shot at it. We were very fast at the end. We're just going to keep pushing forward, keep digging, -- hopefully get a win before the Chase starts. And, hopefully, we can make some noise once it does start."

As it was, the restart proved beneficial enough for Truex, who leapt from eighth place at the final green flag into third at the finish. He was hoping for more, given that eventual runner-up Kasey Kahne suffered a flat tire in the aftermath of a five-car accident that unfolded on the restart, and would have had to come to pit road -- if the rain hadn't begun falling, and if the cars hadn't been parked on pit road under a red flag. After that, the skies opened up and the race never resumed.

Bowyer was also helped by the late-race accident, improving from 12th to eighth in the final laps. "We'll take it," he said. "I wish we could have had a couple more laps, because I know we would have gained a few extra spots. But, big-picture, an eighth-place day is not going to hurt us too bad. ... We were making up ground, but with only a handful of races left until the cutoff, we'll take the points and head to Watkins Glen."

Truex recorded his best finish since the April 22 event at Kansas Speedway, in which he led 173 laps and had the dominant car until the handling on his vehicle deteriorated and left him with a frustrating second-place finish. He also finished third at Bristol, part of an early season run that helped anchor Truex in the top 10 in points. Sunday's effort at Pocono allowed him to jump two spots in the standings to fifth, and show a little bit of the performance he displayed with much more regularity early in the year.

Now he has a chance to build on it next weekend at Watkins Glen International, a road course where he competed in developmental circuits and has two top-five finishes in six starts on NASCAR's premier series -- including a fourth-place result a year ago.

"I'm looking forward to it," Truex said. "I always look forward to road courses, especially Watkins Glen. I've had a lot of great runs there, great finishes. We were in the mix for the lead with a few laps to go [last season]. ... I always enjoy running up there.

"I grew up running the North Series, remember going up there with my father years ago. That's one of those special tracks. Kind of like coming [to Pocono], going to Dover or New Hampshire. That's one of my tracks I grew up going to. So, I always enjoy it, love the road race and especially at Watkins Glen. Looking forward to it."