Truex has trying day for eighth at Las Vegas

Truex on pit road pre-race in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – Martin Truex, Jr. and the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota team certainly took the arduous route to an eighth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

This was his first top-10 finish of 2022 after a 15th at Daytona and then 13th in California. In the closing laps, it appeared he would get his first top-five and top-10, and possibly the win, when he was battling fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for the lead.

However, a caution with two to go from a spin by the No. 43 of Erik Jones forced a Green-White-Checkered finish. After pitting for fuel and four tires, while three Hendrick Motorsports cars took two-right side tires only, Truex restarted in sixth place.

On the final laps, with drivers going three-wide for positions, Truex was shuffled back to finish in eighth place.

“At the end, I just didn’t want to ride the right rear of the No. 8 (Tyler Reddick) and spin us both out,” Truex said on the radio. “We were hosed there at the end with those guys in front just taking just two.”

After starting 12th, Truex worked his way into the top-five by lap 45 and remained there until a caution on Lap 65. While pitting, a tire got away from the Joe Gibbs Racing crew and rolled into the competitor’s box ahead of him.

Thus, he was penalized for pit equipment interference and had to restart all the way back to 31st place. Understandably upset, Truex became even more troubled having to race his way back through the field in unsteady air with so many fellow competitors slicing and dicing their way around the 1.5-mile speedway.

Using the skills and patience that helped him win three NASCAR championships, the Mayetta, NJ native raced his way forward, despite battling a “greasy right rear” causing the car to be too tight. By lap 98, Truex was back into the top-10 and then up to sixth by lap 100.

The two-time LVMS winner remained in the top-10 through several more cautions making minor air pressure adjustments along the way. His main concern was when he radioed in again that his “right rear tire was starting to feel greasy” as the laps wore on.

By the end of Stage 2, the No. 19 team was in fifth, and after pitting, restarting in the same position. As the laps ticked down to the checkers, Truex chased down Busch and the two engaged in a spirited battle for first and second.

As he started to mount a challenge, that final caution brought forth the aforementioned pit stops with the finish coming down to two tires vs four tires. In regards to points positions, Truex moved up one spot to second after three races.

Even race winner Alex Bowman acknowledged how the call for tires played into his hands.

“I don’t think we had a car as fast at the No. 18 and No. 19 there at the end,” Bowman said. “But, the tires were the right call and I left it to my crew chief and just drove it to the finish.”

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