Martin Truex Jr. entered the Playoffs with a bold amount of confidence. The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion had scored three victories on his path to the regular season championship.
However, the confidence most likely faded a little bit after a subpar performance at Darlington Raceway. Now, Truex has seen his race come to an early end after a tire failure on Lap 4 of the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Truex started the race from the third position, but in the opening laps he dropped through the field like a rock, and was complaining about a tight car. As he was trying to figure out what was wrong, the right rear tire let go on the car, and Truex went hard into the outside wall.
Here is the moment where Martin Truex Jr. had a tire go down, and he saw his race end after just three laps completed. Horrendous start to the Playoffs for the regular season champion. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/93xsRr2Bqe
— Toby Christie (@Toby_Christie) September 10, 2023
Truex’s crew chief James Small shared a photo of the cut in the right rear tire, which spelled the end of their day.
— James Small (@james_small) September 10, 2023
After being evaluated and released from the infield care center, Truex said he knew something was wrong with how the car was handling in the opening laps.
“Just really unfortunate. Very unlucky,” Truex said of the tire failure. “It took off really tight, I knew something was up, and then blew a right rear. So, not really sure what happened. Obviously, it blew in the worst place possible. I hate it for my guys. We had an awesome racecar, we were going to have a really good day.”
By falling out on Lap 4, Truex will finish 36th — dead last — on the day. As they run, currently, Truex who entered the Playoffs tied with William Byron for the point lead, now sits just two points above the Playoff Round of 16 cutline.
With the race still ongoing, Truex realistically could fall below the cutline by the end of Sunday’s race.
He’ll be on pins and needles for sure next weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he can’t afford another bad race. But Truex says he won’t spend any time worrying about that until he sees how the points shake out at the end of the day on Sunday.
“We’ll find out when today is over,” Truex said of his strategy for next week. “Not a thing we can do about it right now.”