By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Martin Truex Jr recovered from an early tire rub to score a top-10 finish at Kansas Speedway.
Halfway into Stage 1 of the Hollywood Casino 400, Brad Keselowski slid up in front of Truex’s No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry. With little time to react, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver ran into the back of Keselowski. Both drivers then caught the outside wall. Keselowski pitted almost immediately for a flat tire. Truex rode out the tire rub until it cut his right rear tire around lap 50. He briefly ended up two laps down.
“The No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) car slid up in front of me,” Truex explained. “(He) slid up tight, checked out of the gas, I got into the back of him, and we both scraped the wall. Then just tire rub cut the right rear.”
Truex ran the leaders back down while on fresh tires to regain one of his two laps. He had to wait until a later caution and take the wave around to move back onto the lead lap. Due to being trapped laps down, he did not gain any Stage points.
Once back on the lead lap, Truex slowly climbed the running order. In the closing laps he battled with William Byron for sixth. The damage hindered Truex’s defense for sixth place. With under 10 laps to go, Byron took the spot, leaving the Mayetta, N.J. native seventh when the checkered flag waved.
Truex is now three points below the cutline heading into the final race of the Round of Eight at Martinsville Speedway. The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion is one of four drivers within 10-points of the cutline, held by his teammate, Kyle Busch.
“I expect (Martinsville) to be pretty similar,” admitted Truex. “We’ll just wait and see how it plays out. Martinsville is funny, it can change 10 or 15 degrees, the start time of the race can be a little different and you can find yourself being a little off. It’s a funny, quirky little place, but that said we have a lot of confidence and it’s been good to us over the past few seasons.
“Hopefully, we can go there and get the job done next weekend. The strategy is to lead laps, win stages, win the race. That’s the strategy and if you can’t do that, do the best that you can.”
The seventh-place finish at Kansas marks the 18th top-10 for Truex this season. It is the 246th top-10 finish of his Cup Series career.
The final race of the Round of Eight for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is Sunday, October 31, at Martinsville.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Jerry Jordan / Kickin’ the Tires