INDIANAPOLIS – Martin Truex Jr. Was in position to be a kingmaker – twice – over the closing laps of Sunday’s Jeff Kyle 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Truex said he failed in that role both times.
Truex finished fourth in the 400, a good run and a nice payday ($283,170) on a hot and humid afternoon. But among his first thoughts on pit road after the race were the difficulties he faced in trying to “push” first Kevin Harvick and then ultimate winner Kyle Busch on late-race restarts.
“I feel bad for Kevin,” said Truex after walking to Harvick’s car and talking to him briefly. “I kind of mistimed it. It’s hard to see the lines down there when you’re behind a guy. I totally forgot to ask my spotter for help. I feel bad I messed him up a bit there.
“Then I kind of messed Kyle up there at the end, too, and he won. I guess at the end of the day they were on their own in the front row without me because I just wasn’t getting good starts.”.
Truex raced from fourth on the next-to-last restart and then third on the final restart. He had a shot at winning the race, but the more realistic situation put him in position to boost first Harvick and then Busch.
“Cautions breed cautions,” Truex said. “I felt bad that I didn’t give Kevin the push he needed when I was in fourth and he lost the lead. I did the same thing to Kyle on the last one. I was third and was going to try to push him.
“I was having trouble with the timing with my second gear. My timing was just off a little, and I couldn’t get to him until we got further down the track. By then, I wasn’t too much help to him.”.
And the win? Truex said he had a chance but a slim one.
“Any time you’re at the front of these things and got all these guys around you who already have wins and are in the Chase, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “I didn’t quite have the speed that a couple of those guys had today, but it just an awesome effort by the team. We got caught on one caution and wound up at the back of the pack. It was really hard from there.
“Cole (Pearn, crew chief) made the right calls on pit road to get some of that track position back. I just drove as hard as I could to get all the spots back in traffic, and the strategy took over from there.”.