Just Heartbreaking But Determined

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photo credit: Ron Olds (file)

Truex Jr. Battles to Top-10 Finish; Cut Tire Ends Jones’ Day Early at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (April 30, 2017) – Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. battled all day to secure a top-10 finish in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway while Erik Jones’ day was over almost as soon as it began.

Truex Jr. struggled throughout the afternoon with a very loose-handling No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota Camry but took a well-earned 10th-place finish by sheer determination and aggressive pit strategy. Jones never got the chance as a cut tire on Lap 5 sent the No. 77 GameStop Prey Toyota Camry into the outside retaining wall and a 38th-place-finish in the 400-lap race.

Stage 1 saw Truex start third and move between there and second for the first 100 laps. His third-place finish in the stage earned him eight bonus points for an even 100 stage points for the season.

Truex overcame what appeared to be a devastating penalty when he was called for a questionable commitment line violation as he was about to enter pit road following a Lap 366 caution. The penalty sent him to the back in 25th place.

But when the final caution came out with 24 laps remaining Truex did not pit for fresh tires. He restarted fourth and as a result of not having fresh tires lost track position, but did a good job to keep his Toyota in the top 10.

“We just didn’t have it today, too many issues with rear grip,” explained Truex. “We were good in the beginning but couldn’t get the rear grip issue resolved with our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota. Just one of those days where you battle all day and hope to get a top 10 and we barely did that. We have some work to do for next time we come here.”

Truex moved into second place in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings after nine of 36 races. His 10th-place finish was his sixth top 10 of the season and his fourth top-10 finish in his last five starts at Richmond International Raceway.

photo credit: Ron Olds (file)

Eric Jones contact with the No. 5 car of Kasey Kahne while running three-wide on Lap 1 caused a cut left-front tire just four laps later. The heavy contact with the outside retaining wall caused irreparable damage, forcing the team to take a premature exit from the race.

“We got three-wide right on the start and then the 5 (Kasey Kahne) ran us up into the fence,” said Jones. “I was trying not to wreck everybody and then a couple laps later the GameStop Prey Toyota Camry cut a left-front tire. It’s just really a heartbreaking day. It’s not what we wanted, but we’ll just have to come back next week with another fast race car and try to run up front again.

“We’ve been getting a lot of stage points and been running up front and should have had a lot of good finishes. I think we had another good race car today – one that definitely could have got us up into the top 10, got some more stage points and got a good finish out of it. But there’s got to be more respect showing. I mean, we’re one lap into a 400-lap race and we’re three-wide running people into the wall. It’s just really frustrating.”

Jones dropped four positions, to 16th, in the NASCAR Cup Series driver point standings. He is eight points behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for 15th and 36 behind Ryan Blaney for 12th. (D.H/FRR/pr.4.30.17)

The race winner was Joe Logano.
photo credit: Ron Olds

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Number 9

Unofficial Race Results for the 63Rd Annual Toyota Owners 400 – Sunday, April 30, 2017
Richmond International Raceway – Richmond, VA – .75 Mile Paved
Total Race Length – 400 Laps – 300 Miles

1 – 22 Joey Logano
2 – 2 Brad Keselowski
3 – 11 Denny Hamlin
4 – 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
5 – 4 Kevin Harvick
6 – 1 Jamie McMurray
7 – 31 Ryan Newman
8 – 41 Kurt Busch
9 – 43 Aric Almirola
10 – 78 Martin Truex Jr.
11 – 48 Jimmie Johnson
12 – 19 Daniel Suarez
13 – 6 Trevor Bayne
14 – 42 Kyle Larson
15 – 14 Clint Bowyer
16 – 18 Kyle Busch
17 – 37 Chris Buescher
18 – 10 Danica Patrick
19 – 38 David Ragan
20 – 3 Austin Dillon
21 – 34 Landon Cassill
22 – 5 Kasey Kahne
23 – 20 Matt Kenseth
24 – 24 Chase Elliott
25 – 27 Paul Menard
26 – 13 Ty Dillon
27 – 72 Cole Whitt
28 – 32 Matt DiBenedetto
29 – 95 Michael McDowell
30 – 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
31 – 23 Gray Gaulding
32 – 83 Corey LaJoie
33 – 15 Reed Sorenson
34 – 51 Timmy Hill
35 – 33 Jeffrey Earnhardt
36 – 21 Ryan Blaney
37 – 47 AJ Allmendinger
38 – 77 Erik Jones

1 COMMENT

  1. NASCAR changed the commitment line rule at Richmond International Raceway but a series official said the sanctioning body made the new rule “abundantly clear” to competitors.

    NASCAR penalized 10 drivers — six in Sunday’s Cup race and four in Saturday’s Xfinity race— for commitment line violations. Penalized in the Cup race were Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Danica Patrick and Reed Sorenson.

    Last year, drivers were committed to pit road – READ MORE: http://nascar.nbcsports.com/2017/05/01/nascar-explains-why-commitment-line-rule-was-changed-for-richmond/

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