Martin Truex Jr. led 56 laps in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway, and until a late-race caution changed the outcome of the race, it looked like Truex had a very real chance at snagging his first points-paying win since Richmond in the fall of 2021.
However, poor tire management throughout the race by Truex’s crew chief James Small led to Truex being one of the few drivers on the track in the closing laps on scuffed tires.
As a result, Truex went from having a potential victory in his grasp, to fading with an 11th-place finish. After the race was over, Truex and his crew chief got into a bit of a testy standoff on the team radio.
“Sorry we fucking hosed ourselves,” Small said to Truex. “We were fucking out of tires. We had seven lap scuffs, so we were fucked.”
Truex responded with, “I don’t know what you just said, but that was pitiful.”
Truex’s remark about the car being pitiful in the closing laps raised the ire of Small.
“We had fucking scuffed tires on there because we hosed ourselves taking a set in Stage 1, so we were fucked regardless,” Small pointed back. “Sorry, we fucked up.”
It was at this moment that Truex finally learned that he was given scuffed tires for the final run of the race. Apparently, Small never warned Truex heading into the final restarts of the race.
“You didn’t tell me you put scuffs on, so I didn’t know what the fuck was wrong, okay,” Truex shouted back, with obvious annoyance in his voice. “Jesus.”
A defeated Small responded back by saying, “There was no point in telling you, we were fucked either way.”
SiriusXM NASCAR Radio shared the in-car audio spat via Twitter on Monday:
💭 "You didn't tell me you put scuffs on so I didn't know what the f*ck was wrong, okay? Jesus." 😳
A miscommunication after the final pit stop between Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief James Small led to some fiery radio chatter post-race yesterday at @RichmondRaceway 🔥 pic.twitter.com/G0kldmubfa
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) April 3, 2023
Truex, once a year-in and year-out championship contender, has had a rough go at things since last season, where he missed the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs for the first time since 2014.
After Sunday’s latest loss at Richmond, Truex has now seen his winless drought balloon to 51 races. Add in the fact that Truex has just one top-10 finish to show for his efforts this season, and you have a driver with patience that seems to be wearing thin for his crew chief.
And you seemingly have a crew chief that has given up on cluing his driver in on what the situation is with the race car over the course of the event.
The Joe Gibbs Racing post-race debrief meeting from Richmond Raceway should be quite interesting in light of this post-race communication.