In his 300th career Sprint Cup Series start, Martin Truex Jr. saw a top-10 finish fade in the closing segment of Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The Furniture Row Racing driver, who ran in the top-10 for the majority of the race, and as high as second, fell back when a pit-road call didn’t pan out on the final stop (Lap 222 of 267). He was credited with a 14th-place finish.
"We were better than 14th, no question about that," said Truex. "We ran in the top-10 for most of the race but lost track position at the end. We decided to take two (right-side) tires and fuel on the final pit stop. We felt that was the right call at the time but it didn't turn out to be the right strategic decision. Some teams took fuel only and some didn't even take fuel. It was a gamble for them but it paid off. Those are very tough calls to make.”
Truex qualified 12th and was running in the top-10 by the time the first caution came out on Lap 18. When he came down pit road for the final stop he was positioned in seventh place. When he returned to action he dropped to 13th.
Though he was disappointed about not securing a better result in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, Truex is feeling a positive trend after his third race with the Denver-based, single car team.
“On the bright side this was our best performance as a team, much better than last week at Phoenix,” stated Truex. “We had good pit stops all day and I really like the gains we made this weekend. I wish we could have come home with a top-10 or top-five, but what we learned this weekend means more in the big picture."
Another positive sign was that Truex advanced 10 positions in the driver point standings from 35th to 25th.
The race winner was Brad Keselowski. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Menard, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth.
The race had 21 lead changes among 10 drivers and there were four cautions for 18 laps.
The next race is Sunday, March 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.