(Getty Images)

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

2 Comments

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.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas: Start time, TV channel

Leave a comment

The second round of the Cup playoffs begins with the Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 1.5-mile track kicks off the Round of 12. Winning the race and stage points are a premium for playoff drivers before the races at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval.

Kevin Harvick, who won at Bristol, starts from the pole.

Here is all the info for the Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis at 7:07 p.m. The green flag waves at 7:17 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at Noon. Drivers report to their cars at 6:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7 p.m. by Motor Racing Outreach Chaplain, Billy Mauldin. The national anthem will be performed by Sierra Black at 7:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 6 p.m with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 6:30 p.m. Race coverage begins at 7 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 6 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 96 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Kevin Harvick beat Kyle Busch to win at Bristol and claim his ninth win of the season.

LAST POINTS RACE AT LAS VEGAS: Joey Logano beat Matt DiBenedetto and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in February.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the lineup.

CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS’ COVERAGE:

Kurt Busch seeks first Las Vegas win but without hometown fans

Michael Jordan excited for NASCAR future with Denny Hamlin

Carolina Blue: Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan bonded by NASCAR

Germain Racing sells charter, will exit sport at end of season

Charlotte Roval to host limited number of fans

Friday 5: Team’s departure adds to ‘extremely stressful’ time

NASCAR fines Hendrick Motorsports $100,000

NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

Bubba Wallace to receive Stan Musial award for extraordinary character

Long: 100 days left in 2020, what else can happen?

Kurt Busch seeks first Las Vegas win, but without hometown fans

Kurt Busch
Getty Images
Leave a comment

A win by Kurt Busch in tonight’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN) couldn’t come under more bittersweet circumstances for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver.

Should Busch claim the victory on the 1.5-mile track, he’d go from being the last driver on the playoff grid (3,001 points entering the race) to the first driver to advance to the Round of 8.

While it would be his first victory of the year, it would also be his first NASCAR win at his home track in 23 starts across the Cup and Xfinity Series.

More: Stage points critical at Vegas

“The Vegas track has definitely been one of the tough ones for me over the years with results and finishes not where I would have expected them to be,” Busch said this week. “And the teams that I’ve raced for just have never quite found that right magic set-up or combination. And then for me, it’s a track that I just have that trouble with.

“There are a few tracks like Indianapolis and Martinsville; those are a few places where I struggle. And so with Vegas, I always put that little extra hometown pressure on myself and I would love to win there.”

The 42-year-old Las Vegas-native rolls off ninth on the 1.5-mile track. It’s his fourth while driving for Ganassi.

In his 21 Cup starts in Las Vegas, Busch’s best result is third in 2005 when he competed for Roush Fenway Racing. He has just one other top five. That came in last year’s spring race when he drove a throwback paint scheme to his 1999 NASCAR Southwest Series championship.

That day he led 23 laps. It was only the seventh time he’d led laps there and just the third time he’d totaled more than six laps led.

In February, Busch finished 25th.

If Busch were to finally make it to Vegas’ Victory Lane, the celebration would be somewhat muted.

It was announced last weekend that fans would not be allowed to attend the races at Las Vegas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would love to win through the spirit of the camera and everything on NBC Sports; and I know the fans there, local, will be watching and cheering on the Busch brothers,” Busch said. “So, that’s where I would connect. And hopefully do it through the TV side of it. We’ll get fans back one day and we’ll come back and race.”

Busch enters the Round of 12 having earned just one top 10 in the first round, an eighth-place finish at Darlington. He finished 13th at Richmond and 15th at Bristol.

“What I like is we have had better lap times at all three races so far compared to maybe the five or six races leading into the playoffs,” Busch said. “We know that our cushion is gone. We ended Bristol with 33 points to the good. And now we start Vegas minus four (points behind Austin Dillon in the cutoff spot). So that’s just part of the system and now we have to be perfect. We have to get every point possible that we’re able to get on our own at Vegas, Talladega, and the Roval. And, that should help us advance.”

Carolina Blue: Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan bonded by NASCAR

Leave a comment

Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan were teammates from 1982-84 at the University of North Carolina and Eastern Conference rivals throughout the 1980s and ’90s in the NBA.

But their friendship was about more than just hoops. While growing up on opposite ends of the Tar Heel State, Daugherty and Jordan both developed a passion for following NASCAR.

Tobacco Road meant fast cars and hard-driving heroes for these two North Carolina natives.

LIFELONG FAN: Michael Jordan explains why he’s partnering with Denny Hamlin

In a NASCAR on NBC feature, Daugherty recalls how NASCAR impacted his life and Jordan’s and led both into team ownership. Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin announced they will form a team to field cars for Bubba Wallace next season.

Daughterty notes in the feature that Wallace “has led a dynamic transformation as NASCAR banned Confederate flags and recommitted to inclusion amidst times of great unrest. This is a huge moment for NASCAR, a cultural momentum shift. This is people of all colors coming together to create an all-American race team already with championship lineage.

“With proper funding, equipment and crewmembers, this will be the best chance ever for a Black driver to win – and while driving for a Black owner. An opportunity to shock the world like Muhammad Ali once did.”

Watch the feature above on Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan or by clicking this link.

Las Vegas Xfinity results, driver points

Leave a comment

Chase Briscoe‘s victory Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway sends him into the next round of the Xfinity playoffs.

Noah Gragson led a 2-3-4 finish for JR Motorsports. Gragson was second and followed by Daniel Hemric and Justin Allgaier. Ryan Sieg finished fifth.

Briscoe dominated the race, leading 164 of the 200 laps.

Click here for Xfinity race results

POINTS

Ross Chastain finished 16th, last among the playoff drivers, and fell out of a transfer spot to the second round. He’s two points behind Harrison Burton for the final transfer spot. Michael Annett is 10 points behind Burton. Riley Herbst is 14 points behind Burton. Brandon Brown is 20 points behind Burton.

Click here for driver points report