LONG POND, Pa. — Points leader Martin Truex Jr. says he’s hopeful that a crash with Kyle Busch and an incident between their teams don’t tarnish the relationship Furniture Row Racing has with Joe Gibbs Racing.
“It’s a tough situation for us to be in,’’ Truex said Friday night at Pocono Raceway. “There’s no doubt about that. I’m obviously not happy with how it all went down. I’m disappointed that I made a mistake and it kind of got us in this position. It is what it is. We’ll deal with it the best we can.’’
Furniture Row Racing is aligned with JGR and receives equipment and personnel as part of that deal. Furniture Row Racing’s pit crew members are Joe Gibbs Racing employees.
After Truex and Busch wrecked while racing for the lead last weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Furniture Row Racing tire changers Chris Taylor and Lee Cunningham each had a confrontation with Busch’s crew chief, Adam Stevens, in Furniture Row Racing’s pit box.
“Obviously you never want to see guys get in a confrontation,’’ Truex said. “I think it shows their passion for what they’re doing. It shows their passion for our team. Honestly, I didn’t see the incident. I literally left the race track and haven’t looked at anything all week. Just proud of our guys and we’ll get through it.’’
Joe Gibbs Racing announced this week that it was suspending Taylor and Cunningham three races each for their actions. Stevens was not punished.
“It’s a big impact when they’re two of the best out there,’’ Truex said of losing Taylor and Cunningham for races at Pocono, Watkins Glen and Michigan. “Our pit crew has been amazing this year, putting us in position to win multiple races. Not making mistakes. Those two guys are unbelievable at what they do. We’re obviously at a disadvantage without them.’’
That’s led some to question JGR suspending the two pit crew members — instead of issuing some sort of internal penalty — since the action could hinder Truex. That, some argue, could help JGR as the playoffs loom.
Truex sought to downplay any rift between the teams.
“We’ve been working together for a year and a half plus and things have gone really well,’’ Truex said. “This is just a little bump in the road. Lot of good people involved, lot of smart people. We’ll get it all figured out. It’s not a big deal.’’
Truex also said he and Busch talked Monday. Both restarted on the front row. Previously, they had worked together to get into Turn 1 safely. With about 50 laps left, Busch and his team decided it was time to race. Truex was on the inside and got loose in Turn 1. He slid up and hit Busch. Both hit the SAFER barrier, ending their race.
“Things are fine,’’ Truex said of he and Busch. “It’s a racing deal. We raced really hard. We’ve restarted next to each other on the front row 15-plus times this year probably and never had an issue. It’s just one of those deals. We were both racing hard. We were both wanting to win that race. I made a mistake. I think he understands. We’ll get through it.’’