photo credit: Ron OLds
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 29, 2017) – When the bumping and banging ended and the smoke cleared a level-headed Martin Truex Jr. crossed the finish line in second place. It was his best result in 24 career starts at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway short track.
Truex, who has seven wins this season, did have a shot at passing race winner Kyle Busch on the final lap, but his clean style of racing prevented him from purposely knocking Busch out of the way.
When asked by media if he even thought about taking out Busch for the victory, Truex didn’t hesitate. “Never crossed my mind, that’s not my style of racing. I saw a hole there and almost got by him cleanly. Our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota wasn’t that great today, but we accomplished our mission. We knew this was going to be a difficult track for us, and to come away second and have decent finishes in the first two stages (5th & 4th) turned out to be a good points day.”
Truex qualified second and ran the majority of the 500-scheduled lap race between fourth and sixth place. It wasn’t until the race went into a green-white-checkered overtime finish when Truex’s savvy driving pushed his No. 78 Camry to the front.
While Kyle Busch advanced to the Championship 4 Round with the victory, Truex increased his cushion in the point standings. With two races remaining in the Round of 8, Truex has a 67-point lead over the fifth place driver.
“Until a NASCAR official tells me we have mathematically clinched a final-four berth we aren’t taking anything for granted,” stated Truex. “This is racing and a lot of strange things can happen.”
Truex has had an incredible run so far in the playoffs. Take away the multicar accident he was involved in at Talladega Superspeedway, his average finish in the other six playoff races is 2.33. In those six races he has scored three wins, a second, fourth and fifth. (DMF/FRR/pr 10.29.17)
Jones Struggles, Finishes 26th at Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 29, 2017) – Erik Jones struggled with an ill-handling No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota throughout much of Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway and was forced to settle with a 26th-place finish.
Despite the tough outing, Jones remains 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings after 33 races. He is 71 points behind Joey Logano for 17th and 37 points ahead of Daniel Suarez in 20th.
“It was just a tough day for the SiriusXM Toyota,” said Jones. “We lost a lot of track position early and from there we just never could get it back. It ended up not being a great day. We’ll work a little harder and be a little better for next week.”
The Furniture Row Racing team worked late Saturday night and began again early this morning preparing the backup car after Jones crashed in Saturday’s second practice. Despite any track time, Jones was able to qualify eighth earlier today to line up on the outside of Row 4 for the mid-afternoon start.
Jones battled between the eighth and 10th positions for the first 87 of the scheduled 500 laps on the flat 0.531-mile oval. Problems during the day’s first pit stop on Lap 89, and some drivers choosing to stay out or take two tires, put the No. 77 Toyota in the 24th position for the restart. Jones was shown in 18th place after Lap 130 to complete Stage 1.
The No. 77 SiriusXM Toyota moved up to 13th by Lap 180 but a lack of forward drive dropped Jones to 16th by Lap 230 when he was passed by the leader. He would maintain that position by the end of Stage 2 after Lap 260.
Jones spun exiting Turn 4 on Lap 317, resulting in damage to the left-rear of the No. 77 Toyota. Quick work by the Furniture Row Racing pit crew repaired the damage enough for Jones to continue though he was then mired in the 29th position. With passing at a premium on the tight Martinsville racing surface, Jones was able to pick up three spots before the checkered flag waved five laps into overtime. (DH/FRR/pr 10.29.17)
First Data 500
Martinsville – Oct.29.2017
2.Martin Truex Jr.
10.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
11.Dale Earnhardt Jr.