Pit problems once again derail Martin Truex Jr. at Richmond

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Martin Truex Jr. can’t catch a break in Richmond, Virginia.

Saturday night, for the fourth time in the last five races at Richmond Raceway, the defending series champion led the most laps.

Each time Truex has not ended up in Victory Lane.

Truex finished third Saturday after he and the No. 78 Toyota led 163 laps and won the first two stages.

His bid to win the first short-track race of his Cup career more or less ended in the pits during the Stage 2 caution. That’s when his team was called for an uncontrolled tire penalty, forcing Truex to restart 19th.

In the April 21 race at Richmond, Truex led 121 laps from the pole but finished 14th after a slow pit stop with 10 laps to go.

“It was really good all day,” Truex said. “Just man, I don’t know what we’ve got to do to win this race. We’ve probably led more than anyone here ever that’s not won it. It’s crazy, but it wasn’t meant to be tonight. Hell of an effort by the guys and good recovery by the guys on pit road. Thanks to all you guys back in Denver (Furniture Row Racing’s headquarters) working your butts off to bring these fast cars and just keep digging and we’re moving on. So, that’s the name of the game and hopefully we’ll get the win when we really need it.”

Truex has led 675 laps over the last five Richmond races but hasn’t finished in the top two in any of them.

Despite the penalty, Truex’s earned enough points to clinch a spot in the second round of the playoffs.

Following the race, Truex’s crew chief Cole Pearn tweeted his frustration over the penalty that kept his team from earning its fifth win of the season.