Martin Truex Jr. was consistently solid Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway’s short track, finishing seventh in the Sprint Cup Series race, his 16th top-10 result of the season.
Driving the No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, Truex started on the pole and never ran out of the top seven. He led six times for 147 laps, the second most in the 500-lap race. Truex’s Toyota teammate Matt Kenseth was the lap leader at 176.
Speaking of laps led, Truex remains the season leader in that category at 1,743. That is more than three times as many laps led as his previous season high of 581 in 2007.
Truex, who acknowledges that he has had a "likeness reversal" of Martinsville’s .526-mile tricky oval, feels the Furniture Row Racing team made some big gains over the weekend at NASCAR’s oldest active track.
“Martinsville used to be a big puzzle for me," said Truex, who claimed his fifth season pole on Friday. "Today was a good step forward for us at Martinsville. We probably had the best car we ever had here. We started up front (on the pole) and led a bunch of laps early. We were up there all day, but have to figure out how to be better the second half of the race at Martinsville.
“Once we can do that we’ll have a shot at winning one of those grandfather clocks (winning trophy). I really want one of those. The second half of the race was typical Martinsville -- tight in the center and too loose on exit. We fought that for almost the entire second half of the race.”
The race winner was Jimmie Johnson, who automatically advances to the final four at the season-ending race in Homestead, Fla. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Truex, Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano and AJ Allmendinger.
Five of the eight remaining Chase drivers finished in the top-10 – Johnson, Hamlin, Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.
The race had five cautions for 54 laps and there were 15 lead changes among nine drivers.
The next race is Sunday Nov. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway in Forth Worth.