An engine failure in the early stages of Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway not only knocked Martin Truex Jr. out of the race but also out of the Chase playoffs.
Truex, who started the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from the pole, ran up front until he started to experience a vibration. He was hoping it was a tire issue, but shortly after making a pit stop for fresh rubber and fuel his day came to a premature end when his engine expired on Lap 41 of 192. It was the team’s first engine failure of the year.
The final result was a 40th-place finish for Truex, his worst of the 2016 season.
Truex finished 10th in the Chase’s second round, two positions shy of advancing to the Round of 8. (See Chase standings below)
Though he is out of the Chase, Truex can still finish as high as fifth in the final point standings.
After Truex got out of his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER BOATS Toyota in the garage he faced a throng of media and answered every question with the same amount of class, professionalism and candor that he has demonstrated throughout his career.
“Just developed a vibration and started to lose a little bit of power,” explained Truex, who led two laps. “Originally I thought it could have been a tire because it was shaking worse and worse and worse until it was time to pit. I slowed down to hit pit road and felt the vibration still there and knew it was the engine.
“Definitely not the way we wanted today to go – it’s a tough way to go out, but proud of the effort and proud of all the guys. Some things you just can’t explain. TRD (Toyota Racing Development) has done a great job with our engines all year long with no failures and our plate track engines have been great. I’m sure it was a part failure or some unforeseen circumstance. It’s unfortunate that it was with everything on the line. We really thought we were going to have a good day. We had a fast Toyota Camry and it’s just a shame it ended the way it did.”
Truex, who has won four races this season (two in the first round of the Chase) and claimed four poles, said the single-car Furniture Row Racing team might be down now, but will rebound quickly and get ready for next week’s short-track race in Martinsville, Va.
“We have a great team and we’ve had a great season and we’re going to go out and try to win the rest of the races,” said a confident Truex. “We’ll hold our heads high, it’s been a good year and it’s disappointing knowing the possibilities. But all in all you can’t do anything about it. That’s racing some days.”
The race winner was Joey Logano. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Brian Scott, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon and AJ Allmendinger.
The next race is Sunday Oct. 30 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.