Cole Custer wasn’t the only one who was surprised he rallied from sixth place on the final restart to win Sunday’s Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.
Martin Truex Jr. was equally surprised at how Custer and the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang practically came out of nowhere to draw even and then pass him heading into the final lap.
“I had just cleared the 4 (Kevin Harvick),” Truex said in a post-race video conference. “Just as I got off (turn four on the next-to-last lap) and got straight, the 41 was somehow beside me.
“I didn’t expect him coming, I don’t know if my spotter saw him coming, or by the time he told me he was already next to me. … At the same time, I think he had so much momentum that I don’t think I could have blocked him without crashing us both. There’s not much I could’ve done different there.
“We were all tangling and battling and side by side and three-wide and all that mess. These things are all just about momentum. (Custer) was able to keep his momentum going and we all came together coming into three, he was able to take advantage of it. … He was just at the right place at the right time, I guess.”
Part of the reason Truex may not have sensed Custer was gaining on him was Truex may have been rattled from making contact with Harvick’s car coming off Turn 3 on the next-to-last lap. Harvick would finish fourth.
As soon as he climbed from his race car, Truex made a beeline to Harvick to apologize for the inadvertent contact that, in hindsight, likely cost both of them a chance at the win.
“I think it’s always important to get it out of the way quickly,” Truex said. “I know Kevin well, we’ve raced together a long time and I’ve got tremendous amount of respect for him.
“Typically, we don’t have any issues, I just misjudged getting in behind him. I felt bad about that. I probably took away his chance to win the race, so I wanted him and (crew chief Rodney Childers) to know it was on me, it’s my bad. You can’t go back and change it now, but I definitely was sorry I did it.”
Truex’s runner-up finish is his best result and his first top-five since capturing his only win of the season at Martinsville seven races ago.
“It’s unfortunate for us to lose the lead twice with the caution coming at the wrong time, but that’s just part of the deal, how these things go,” Truex said. “But I’m obviously proud of the run today.
“It feels like we’re getting our arms back around some things, proud of the effort and I know some wins are coming now.”
We had an unbelievably fast @AutoOwnersIns Camry today. A little unlucky on those last restarts, but thats’s part of it. I feel like we’re back in the game now, so our wins will come. 👊🏻 #TeamToyota pic.twitter.com/lvDTFNKqSL
— Martin Truex Jr. (@MartinTruex_Jr) July 12, 2020