"Every time we felt the momentum swing our way this weekend, we seemed to take a punch in the gut,” stated Martin Truex Jr. after battling to an adversity-filled 23rd-place finish in Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
Though Truex and the single-car Furniture Row Racing team were continually faced with adversity throughout the weekend, they kept bouncing back. But in the end a damaged backup race car won out in the 400-lapper at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway.
After posting a strong qualifying effort of 12th, Truex was forced to a backup car after wrecking the team’s primary Chevrolet as a result of a flat tire in Saturday’s first practice. The team worked overtime on the backup Saturday, making a number of changes to the car that last ran at Texas Motor Speedway in November.
Because of the backup, Truex had to start the race from the rear of the 43-car field per NASCAR rules. However, that didn’t hinder Truex, who quickly moved forward, running in 26th-place by Lap 10 of 206.
“We weren’t perfect in the beginning, but we were heading in the right direction and felt we could make the car better,” noted Truex. “It appeared things were finally going our way.”
In a fluke incident on Lap 26 Truex ran over debris, which caused a large crack in the center of the car’s splitter, putting the No. 78 Chevrolet at a huge aerodynamic disadvantage. The splitter damage resulted in unscheduled pit stops for Truex to repair the problem.
After dropping to the back of the field again, Truex once again bounced back and was running as high as 19th. It appeared that he was going to close out the race even stronger. But the severity of the damage to the splitter eventually resulted in additional damage to the front-end of the car, stalling Truex’s forward movement.
“Finishing 23rd is never acceptable for us because we feel that we are a Chase caliber team,” said Truex. “But considering the incidents that we were faced with, I can honestly say that we fought for every inch of that 23rd-place result.”
Truex added, “Not a good weekend, but I am proud of the way we kept on bouncing back from all of the adversity. We're going to be ok. Just going through a rough streak right now.”