Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, did not go according to Martin Truex Jr.’s usual script at road course races. Usually, the driver of the No. 19 car is one of the class of the field, and he’s contending for the race win.
On Sunday, the 41-year old was clinging to his Playoffs life. For Truex, he was able to move on to the Round of 8 after an abysmal 29th-place finish, thanks in part to bad luck by others who were battling for a Playoff spot.
After climbing from the car, Truex did not mince words when it came to his Toyota Camry race car on Sunday.
“Luckily, we were able to make it [to the Round of 8]. Pulled out some Stage Points, really that was the difference. Good strategy, terrible race car,” Truex explained. “We sucked, I mean, it was awful. I have no idea what we did from past races here, where we’ve typically been pretty decent. But it was just absolute garbage. Glad we made it, that’s all I can say, I guess.”
Sunday’s race was definitely the New Jersey-native’s worst in four-career starts at the 2.28-mile 17-turn course that weaves through the infield at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Truex finished seventh in 2019 and 2020 at this track and in the inaugural event at the layout, Truex had the lead on the final lap, when he was crashed by Jimmie Johnson in the final turn.
Truex finished 14th in that 2018 event.
At no point in Sunday’s race did Truex look like a true contender for a win, or really even a very good finish at all, but things really spiraled out of control when he was turned on lap 105 by Joey Hand, who was making his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the No. 52 Rick Ware Racing machine.
Hand’s maneuver, which led to Truex’s bad finish, had the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion shaking his head at the end of the day.
“Yeah, I was just behind two guys side-by-side going into the bus stop. So, we’re all checked up just trying not to get run over and we get run over,” Truex said. “I don’t know what the hell he was thinking. You know, riding around the back all day then drives through a Playoff car for no reason.”
But the good news for Truex is even with a bad race under his belt at a track he’s usually expected to contend for the win at, is that the Playoff points have been reset, and he’s still in the tournament as we go into the Round of 8.
Truex says for him, it’s easy to shake off one bad race.
“Oh, it’s easy. This is just one race,” Truex explained. “Luckily, we had two good races this round. Even came away from Talladega in one piece rolling, which is not very typical for us. You have good days and bad and you fight through them and we did today. Just proud of everyone, next three tracks should be good for us. But you never know, so, looking forward to it.”
With the Playoffs reseeding at the end of Sunday’s race, Truex vaults back up into third in the championship standings, by virtue of his 29 Playoff Points he’s earned with four race wins and five Stage Wins in 2021.
Four drivers will advance from the Round of 8 to compete for the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 7th.