CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Martin Truex Jr. believes it’s time for NASCAR to raise the minimum speed for cars that haven’t been involved in a wreck.
Truex said he raised the issue in a meeting this week with Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer.
Truex’s comments come four days after a minor accident involving a car 16 laps down kept him from winning the regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway.
“We need to up minimum speed for cars that were not in an accident, that didn’t get on the five-minute clock for crash damage, for that very reason,” Truex said Wednesday during playoff media day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “We don’t want to go to Homestead and have a car that’s 25 laps down scrape the wall or blow a tire and change the outcome of possibly a championship or who the champion is. I think it’s something they’re definitely willing to look into. I think it makes sense. ”
Truex’s chance at winning in Richmond were dampened when Derrike Cope washed up the track with three laps to go and brushed the wall. NASCAR threw the caution with Truex leading, even though no major damage resulted from it.
Lap times show that Cope was running laps faster than the minimum speed in the five circuits before he hit the wall.
The caution created an overtime finish and Truex being wrecked on the last lap by Denny Hamlin.
“I would say that minimum speed right now probably is too far off from where we run,” Truex said. “You have to be way, way off the pace to go 16 or 20 laps down under green at a short track, for a 400-lap race. Losing a couple of laps is one thing. But 15-plus, you probably don’t need to be out there.”
According to info provided by NASCAR prior to the race at Richmond, the minimum speed for the race was 26.95 seconds.
Truex said any new regulations regarding minimum speed should be enforced over the course of the entire season, instead of potentially just in the 10-race playoff.
“Just because we need to keep that consistency,” Truex said. “I do feel like there’s too much of a gap in there. Certainly, some tracks where the tires wear out a lot, it’s going to be different than places where it doesn’t.”
The Furniture Row Racing driver said cars off the pace can lead to questionable situations for cars running with the pack.
“For quite a while now we’ve had a few cars here and there that are just so far off the pace, you don’t know even know where they’re going to go when you get to the corner,” Treux said “It’s not a huge issue, but it’s something we need to look at.”
Truex also didn’t see Cope’s accident as a “legitimate reason for the caution” to be issued, especially with a potential fifth win of the season at stake in the regular-season finale.
“The biggest problem I had was, every year in the drivers meeting (NASCAR says) ‘we don’t want anyone screwing with the race’ and then they make the wrong call. It’s frustrating.”
With the start of the postseason four days away, does Truex have confidence in NASCAR’s race control?
Said Truex: “Ask me in 10 weeks.”