BROOKLYN, Mich – Early on in Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 at the Michigan International Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. appeared to have by far the best race car in the field. He started in the back of the field due to failing pre race inspection twice. But, despite the bad starting spot, he didn’t stay there long.
By Lap 23, Truex had his No. 19 Toyota already solidly inside of the top 10. By Lap 30, he was battling for the top five. Truex, had a fast race car and was moving up one-by-one. Then, a brilliant strategy call by his crew chief Cole Pearn netted Truex a stage win.
See, when everyone else was hitting pit road for their lone pit stop in the opening stage, they all took two tires – Truex took none. He inherited the lead on Lap 45 and only gave it back when Denny Hamlin made a challenge at him on fresher tires for the stage win. But, Truex used lapped traffic to his advantage and despite having older tires than everyone else, he cruised to his third stage win of the season and first since Charlotte on May 26.
Following the stage, he hit pit lane to get four fresh Goodyear tires. While he had to restart further back, he still moved up quickly. The speed was bar none tops of the 37 car field. Again, Truex took fuel only on his lone pit stop in the second stage and if not for Brad Keselowski spinning in Turn 4 with five laps remaining in the stage, he was heading towards another stage win.
But, due to bunching the field up for a one lap shootout for the stage win and Truex having old tires, he had to settle for second. The problem was, due to that strategy, he had to restart just inside of the top 20 for the final stage. The track position was gone. That cost him a shot at a win as he had to settle for a fourth place result instead.
“It was a hot rod early,” said Truex after scoring his 15th top 10 finish of the year. “We were able to drive by everybody. The first couple runs of the race were really sporty. To get up there and win stage 1 was a big deal. I felt through the middle of the race we had the best car. Just those last couple restarts, we got off sequence and lost all of our track position and restarted 19th. Just could not get in the right spot. Every restart we were in the wrong lane, we lost spots. Then we would just have to pick them off one at a time. Amazing race car. Thanks to everyone back at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), Toyota and TRD. The Auto Owners Camry was a rocket ship today, just didn’t get to show it at the end.”
Truex, finished third in the June race and now has four top six finishes in his last six Michigan starts. He also heads to Bristol with four consecutive top six finishes on the season too.