There was a reason Martin Truex Jr. “thought we were dead” before the overtime finish at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday.
Truex’s No. 78 Toyota was rolling on four old tires after not pitting. The two cars behind him, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones, had taken two tires each in the pits. Then Kyle Larson in fourth and the rest of the leaders had taken four.
But it was those four old tires that got to perform the victory burnout before rolling into victory lane.
NASCAR America’s analysts discussed the pit strategy that earned Truex his third win of the year.
“Let’s just talk about how great the 78 was, all those tires meant nothing because Martin Truex Jr. did such a great job on the restart,” Jeff Burton said.
Said Steve Letarte, “You can talk about all the pit strategies, but sometimes you make the wrong call, but the right car overcomes it.”
Slugger Labbe was confused as to why crew chief Adam Stevens decided to put left-side tires on Kyle Busch’s car instead of right-side tires.
“That’s a call we never really see in our sport, left-side tires,” Labbe said. “Adam Stevens and the tire changer, they knew they had lug nut missing from the right-rear tire and yet they still decided to get left-sides only and face a potential penalty from NASCAR of $10,000. That whole decision to get left-side tires was weird to me. … You see it at Daytona and Talladega where tires are extremely hard.”
The loose lug nut came in Stevens’ first race back from a four-race suspension for a left-rear tire coming off Busch’s car at Dover.
“It just makes you wonder if NASCAR needs to ramp up the penalties for the more penalties you have as a team,” Labbe said. “$10,000 just isn’t getting the job done to me.”
Watch the video for the full discussion on pit strategy.