Indianapolis – In a race that never seemed as if it would end, Martin Truex Jr. brought home a solid eighth-place finish Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
With 10 laps remaining in the Brickyard 400, Truex’s No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota was running second. But on Lap 151 of the scheduled 160-lap race, a caution came out for debris. Truex, along with the lead cars, did not pit for fresh tires.
When that yellow flag waved on Lap 151, it marked the first of four cautions plus a red flag that resulted in 10 overtime laps, extending the race by approximately one hour. During each of those final restarts Truex was positioned in the non-preferred outside lane.
“With all those cautions at the end and being in the outside lane on older tires made it difficult for us,” said crew chief Cole Pearn. “Not much you can do when you’re in that position. Considering all the things that happened at the end and finishing in the top 10 wasn’t all that bad. We had a great car, proud of everyone at Furniture Row Racing, Toyota and JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing).”
Truex, who started the Sprint Cup race eighth, ran in the top-five for the majority of the race. Before the multiple cautions at the end of the race, Truex was in pursuit of the lead, chasing eventual race winner Kyle Busch on the 2.5-mile oval.
“We really didn’t have much for Kyle, he was pretty much in his own league by a long-shot. ” said Pearn. “But had those cautions not come out we had a pretty good lead over the third-place car.”
Truex was obviously not pleased with the number of cautions in the closing laps.
“They were wrecking all over the place on those restarts and that was costly for us,” said Truex, who posted his ninth top-10 finish of the season. “Our Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota was fast all day, but being caught in the outside lane for those restarts at the end really hurt our chances.”
Truex, who is inching closer to mathematically clinching a Chase playoff berth, remained seventh in Sprint Cup driver points. He is ninth in Chase points.
The top-10 finishers in order were: Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Truex, Austin Dillon and Paul Menard.
There were eight cautions for 34 laps and five lead changes among three drivers.
The next race is Sunday July 31 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.