Truex Speeds to Overtime Victory in Opening Chase Race
When in overtime on a NASCAR Sprint Cup racetrack, making the right move is all about timing. Mayetta native Martin Truex Jr. and his Furniture Row Racing crew made the right move at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 18, pitting for new tires before an overtime restart and zipping to the lead and ultimately the victory in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400.
“Darlington all over again,” Truex said immediately after the race. “I guess the racing gods don’t want us leading too much; they have to make it difficult on us. But what can I say about everybody that makes this possible? And the fans have given us a ton of support, and it definitely helped us today.”
Following a caution flag on lap 263, when Michael McDowell shredded his right front tire, the field restarted in overtime on lap 269. During the caution, Truex made a pit stop for new tires and came out in the fourth position on the restart.
But with Ryan Blaney, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards ahead of him on old tires, Truex immediately sped to the second position and then overtook Blaney from the outside just before the final turn heading into lap 270. Truex then stretched the gap from the front and easily outraced the field to the checkered flag.
Truex, whose No. 78 Toyota had led 30 laps of the scheduled 267 early on, lost a lap during an unscheduled pit stop on lap 69 to change a flat right-front tire but returned to the lead lap when a caution on lap 120 was called for Brian Scott’s spin off the fourth turn.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 was the opening race of the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship, kicking off with the Round of 16, and the victory automatically sent Truex to the Round of 12, which begins with the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 8.
The win was Truex’s first at the 1.5-mile track, third of the season and sixth of his career.
“We did what we came here to do and it always feels good to accomplish your goals,” Truex said during the post-race press conference. “Today was a great day for us. We had to overcome some adversity and that was tough, but I’m really proud of our team for sticking together. They never quit until it was over.”
Unfortunately, Truex’s No. 78 failed the post-race laser inspection – the left-rear wheel alignment was found to be off by approximately ten-thousandths of an inch, according to a Furniture Row Racing statement released Monday – but NASCAR has yet to dole out any penalties. Edwards’ No. 48 also failed the post-race inspection.
Previous violations have produced either 10- or 15-point deductions during the regular season. However, NASCAR recently updated its rules for “encumbered” victory penalties during the postseason, and those would not be in effect for Truex because it was the lowest grade of failure for the Laser Inspection System (LIS) platform.
— David Biggy