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Truex past Texas, ready for Kansas

April 19, 2013, Holly Cain,

Truex remains in high spirits despite penalty following runner-up finish at Texas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A good night’s sleep, a poolside barbeque with the family and a little perspective helped Martin Truex Jr. get over his a runner-up finish at Texas Motor Speedway last Saturday -- his sixth runner-up finish since his only Sprint Cup Series victory nearly six years ago.

By the time NASCAR issued him a six-point penalty and fine on Wednesday for his car measuring low following the Texas race, Truex says he was already onward and upward.

“I love racing and days like that are tough, but they really don’t stick with you very long,’’ Truex said of his showing Saturday night. “As long as I’ve been doing this you learn to look at the positives quickly and move on. Monday we started thinking about Kansas.

“I pretty much knew (the penalty) was coming, so no real reaction,’’ continued Truex Friday morning from a Kansas City Toyota dealership where he participated in a tree-planting event for NASCAR’s Race to Green initiative.

"It is what is. Six points and move on and go racing."

-- Martin Truex Jr.

“It is what is. Six points and move on and go racing.’’

“I said last week I’m not worried about points anymore. I’m tired of waking up every Monday morning or Sunday night looking at points, it just wears you out. So we’re going to go have fun and try to win races, try to finish off what we started last week.

Truex’ team owner Michael Waltrip said he would not appeal the penalties -- small potatoes compared to the 25-point shot, and multiple crew suspensions handed to reigning Cup champion Brad Keselowski and his Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano for failing pre-race inspection.

Truex said his team had identified a right front shock problem with the car that resulted in the measurement problem. There was some debris lodged in the shock and Truex said the team had been examining the issue all week. They run that shock “99 percent of the time’’ he said, stressing it was clearly an atypical “parts failure.”

And he’s convinced the mechanical issue was a far greater punishment than NASCAR’s disciplinary action since his car ran worse after the shock problem.

And, he figures, it’s better for the situation to come on a runner-up finish than if he had won the race.

“You certainly don’t want to win a race, have the car be low and have people say ‘he only won because his car was low,’ Truex said managing a smile.

“The deal with the shock hurt us more than anything. As far as what we can tell, the shock broke in the last 20 laps.

“The last 20 laps of the race was the first time all day I had been tight and it didn’t handle like it had all day. It was like, seriously, we get beat off pit road, the car gets tight out of nowhere and the car is tight and I have no idea why.

“After the race we find out the shock is completely seized up, so who knows maybe we could have beaten Kyle if the right front shock hadn’t seized up. It was one of those deals, like what’s going to happen next.’’

Truex was visibly disappointed and frustrated in the minutes right after the race Saturday and with good reason. His No. 56 NAPA Toyota Camry led 142 of the 334 laps and had the lead with 20 laps to go.

Race winner Kyle Busch beat Truex out of the pits during the final caution period to take the lead for good.

“His pit stop was 11.7 and ours was 13 seconds,’’ Truex said. “It (Busch’s) being the first stall was definitely an advantage by maybe three-tenths to half a second so that’s where it all was.

“But I made sure this week that my pit crew knew I was proud of what they did. Our group has really worked hard this year. We had a couple really rough weeks in there. Martinsville (Va.) was a very tough week for our pit crew, one of the worst races they probably had all year. For them to rebound and do as well as they did -- we lost maybe one or two spots throughout the night at Texas -- without them we probably wouldn’t have been able to run second.’’

For Truex that sometimes feels like a blessing and a curse.

He has been so close to victory. Last September, for instance, he was leading the race with five laps to go only to get beaten off pit road and lose to Denny Hamlin on a final restart. He’s led 1,408 laps since his win at Dover in the summer of 2007.

And he was the runner-up at BOTH Kansas races last year.

“I want to win more than anything else in the entire world and I’m not going to stop until I get it,’’ Truex said. “Last week, I was definitely disappointed for 30 or 40 minutes, but then I looked back -- as I did last year all those times -- and said, we did a lot of really good things. It was big day for us, a real turnaround for our season.

“We’ve had some really fast cars all year long and terrible things that happened to us as far as finishes go. So it was good to kind of get the ball rolling. We learned a lot with the race car that we can use here (at Kansas) and other places.
“I’m excited to be here at Kansas, we ran second both times last year and hopefully we can improve that by one spot. … We’re going to get the win soon.’’


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