Martin Truex Jr. on finishing 2nd at Daytona: ‘I did all I thought I could do’

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When asked in a post-race press conference to recap his final lap in Sunday’s Daytona 500, Martin Truex Jr. didn’t try to sugarcoat or cast blame. He told it like it is.

“I finished second,” Truex said of earning his best career finish at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Sure, Truex would have loved to have kept winner Denny Hamlin at bay down the frontstretch on the final lap. But Hamlin side drafted Truex just enough to pull ahead and win by 0.01 of a second, the closest finish in Daytona 500 history.

“I did all I thought I could do,” Truex said. “I had the lead to the start of the (word) Daytona on the (frontstretch) wall.

“It couldn’t have been more than 20 feet from the line. … He side-drafted me and I probably should have run him up a little bit more, but I thought we were close enough that I could keep that foot or so, but I couldn’t. I lost it at the last second.”

Admittedly, it had been a tough week for Truex, including wrecking on the final lap of Thursday’s second Can-Am Duel race.

And even though he had to go to a backup car for Sunday’s Great American Race, Truex relished not just the outcome, but how well he worked with his quasi-teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Furniture Row ended a decade-long relationship with Chevrolet at the end of last season and moved to Toyota, combined with a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing for this season.

Daytona 500 - Practice

“I’m really proud of everybody and the teamwork with the JGR guys,” Truex said. “For me, that was a big step in getting this relationship kicked off. We worked hard all week to make sure we didn’t wreck things and we’re going to continue to work hard to make sure those guys understand we’re team players and we’re in for the long haul.”

That relationship worked wonderfully in Sunday’s race, as JGR plus one (Truex) wound up capturing four of the top five spots with Kyle Busch third and Carl Edwards fifth. The other JGR driver, Matt Kenseth, appeared as if he might win, but fell back on the final lap after trying to block Hamlin. Kenseth lost the draft and finished 14th.

“The last lap, we were in great position behind Matt,” Truex said. “If Matt would have stayed in front of us, maybe he would have held off Denny. He tried to cut off his run and Denny made it three-wide.

“I felt I had enough momentum to keep (Hamlin) behind me, and I did all the way up to the last couple feet. He just shot out the last couple inches there right before the line.

“I feel like the move Matt made is what gave me a chance at winning the race. I don’t think I was in a position to make a move because Kyle was behind me and I think he was planning on staying with me, so I just couldn’t shoot out before turn 4 without those guys jumping all over us.”

It was the second runner-up finish for a member of the Truex family this weekend. Martin’s younger brother, Ryan, finished second in Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race.

“I’m real proud of him for what he’s done,” the elder Truex said. “It’s been a tough couple of years for him. It’s great to see him persevere to find a truck to drive and bounce back. They just put the deal together only a couple weeks ago. It’s great to see him back at the track.”

While finishing second stings a bit, it also gives Truex an optimistic feeling heading to next Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“I’m proud of what we did today,” he said. “This is my best finish in this race. It’s probably one of the strongest runs I’ve ever had a restrictor plate track. Sometimes, you just come up a little bit short. We’re going to keep fighting and we’ll come to Atlanta and try to win again.”

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Texas Truck race results: Carson Hocevar scores first series win

Texas Truck race results
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Carson Hocevar was in front after the leaders crashed in overtime and scored his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.

MORE: Texas Truck race results

Rookie Nick Sanchez, who led 168 of the 172-lap race, dueled reigning series champion Zane Smith on the last lap when Sanchez’s truck hit Smith’s. As Sanchez tried to regain control of his vehicle, he was hit from behind by Hocevar. That contact sent Sanchez into Smith. Christian Eckes also was collected.

Hocevar’s first win came in his 59th series start.

Chase Purdy placed second. Stewart Friesen finished third. Ty Majeski was fourth. Jake Garcia completed the top five.


Richmond Xfinity results, driver points


RICHMOND, Va. — Chandler Smith won a stage, led a race-high 83 laps and rallied late to score his first career Xfinity win Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

MORE: Richmond Xfinity results

MORE: Xfinity points after Richmond race

John Hunter Nemechek placed second. The rest of the top five featured Josh Berry, Kaz Grala and Cole Custer. Austin Hill, who had won three of the first six races of the season, placed ninth.

Hill continues to lead the points. He has a 12-point advantage on Riley Herbst and an 18-point lead on Nemechek heading into the next series race in two weeks at Martinsville.

Chandler Smith scores first career Xfinity win with Richmond victory


RICHMOND, Va. — Chandler Smith held off John Hunter Nemechek to win his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at Richmond Raceway.

The 20-year-old Smith took the lead with 12 laps to go and withstood a restart with six laps to go to earn the victory for Kaulig Racing.

MORE: Richmond race results, driver points

His victory came about a month after being passed for the lead with two laps to go at Las Vegas and finishing third day.

“It obviously wasn’t in God’s works for me that and I was fine with that, I was good with that,” said Smith, who will make his Cup debut Sunday. “I knew there was something bigger and better that He was playing it out for me and I just had to be faithful and keep on trucking. Here’s proof of it.”

Nemechek was second. Josh Berry placed third and was followed by Kaz Grala and Cole Custer.

Justin Allgaier finished 13th to win the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

“Today was weird because of how we finished,” Allgaier said. “Given the same circumstances a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, 13th wasn’t going to win the Dash 4 Cash but today it did.”

Stage 1 winner: Chandler Smith

Stage 2 winner: Josh Berry

Who had a good race: A caution caught Justin Allgaier a lap down, ending his chances for a top-five finish but he was able to bounce back and win the Dash 4 Cash for a fifth time. … Derek Kraus finished 10th in his Xfinity debut. … Chris Hacker placed 14th in his Xfinity debut.

Who had a bad race: Riley Herbst had his career-long streak of top-10 finishes snapped after nine races. He placed 23rd after he was hit and spun late in the race.

Notable: This is the second time in the last four races that there has been a first-time series winner. Sammy Smith scored his first series win last month at Phoenix.

Next: The series is off until April 15 at Martinsville Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain move on from COTA incident


RICHMOND, Va. — Daniel Suarez says he’s been trying to “work on myself” after conflicts with teammate Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman last weekend at COTA but noted that if NASCAR doesn’t make adjustments with restarts on road courses, he’ll change his driving style.

NASCAR fined Suarez $50,000 on Wednesday for hitting another vehicle on pit road after the race. Suarez hit Chastain’s car at pit entrance and hit the back of Bowman’s car while they were both on pit road.

MORE: Cup starting lineup at Richmond 

“I’ve been trying to work on myself mostly during the week, trying to clear my mind and reset,” Suarez said Saturday at Richmond Raceway. “My team, we’re good. I think the issue wasn’t really with one driver. I feel like it’s more as an industry, how we are allowing to have those kind of bump-and-run restarts at the end of the races at road courses.

“I don’t think that’s right.”

Suarez restarted fifth in the second overtime restart. Alex Bowman, with Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe aligned behind, charged and got beside Suarez as they approached Turn 1.

As Bowman slowed to make the tight turn, he was hit from behind and that sent him into Suarez, who clipped the left rear of Martin Truex Jr.’s car. Truex spun in front of Suarez and blocked his path, allowing the rest of the field to go by. Suarez finished 27th.

Chastain said he and Suarez have moved on from last week’s incident after talking this week.

“Every household on this earth has their moments of arguments and we had ours,” Chastain said Saturday.

“We’re family. We’re in the same house, right. It’s in our name. It’s Trackhouse. No matter what, we all think we have to put that behind and know that moving forward we’re brothers. … We’re brothers at Trackhouse and we’re going to be stronger together.”

Suarez is among the number of drivers who have raised concerns about the rough driving in the series. The Next Gen car is more durable and can take more hits — as evident in the Clash at the Coliseum to start the year when drivers barreled into the back of cars in the corners to slow down.

Add the emphasis of winning, less respect for one another and the result is the type of racing on display at the end of the race at Circuit of the Americas, as drivers charged down a long straightaway before braking hard for a tight turn and making contact with one another.

So, what can be done?

“I don’t have the answers to that,” Suarez said. “All I know is that NASCAR is working toward trying to make a better solution for some of these restarts. It doesn’t look right. This sport looks embarrassing.

“That’s not real. Just go into the corner and bump three cars to push people out of that way, that’s not real. We know that. That’s how some people got top fives and top 10s last week and some of the guys that were fast, like myself, finished 27th.

“If NASCAR does something about it, that’s amazing. If they don’t I’ll just join the party.”