Despite a broken right wrist hampering him at every turn – a situation that wasn’t helped any further by his cast apparently coming apart during the race – Martin Truex, Jr. was still in the mix for a win last night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Truex made it happen with a superb late charge after having to make an extra pit stop under caution at Lap 210 for a lug nut issue on his car. He dropped back to 18th, but charged through the field and briefly fought eventual winner Kyle Busch for the lead off a restart with 21 laps to go.
Busch eventually won the battle on the high line, and Truex fell to third in the closing laps as he was unable to hold off Joey Logano for the runner-up spot.
“Going to the rear with 100 [laps] to go was a pretty large kick in the pants and we just had to fight hard to get back to the front,” said Truex. “I was surprised we made it there. I really didn’t think we could. The car wasn’t very good at that point.
“[Crew chief] Chad [Johnston] made a few adjustments to it and we just kept our head down and kept digging and had some good restarts and was able to make it up there — just didn’t have quite enough at the end to get by Kyle.”
Nonetheless, Truex gave himself a chance to earn the second and final Wild Card in the Chase for the Sprint Cup this coming Saturday at Richmond International Raceway.
With the final regular season race looming, Truex sits 15 points out of the Top 10, and five points ahead of Ryan Newman in the battle for that aforementioned Wild Card.
Newman’s fifth-place run on Sunday will keep the pressure on Truex as the scene shifts to the Richmond bullring. One wonders if Truex will be sporting a more durable cast for the occasion considering what happened to the one he had at Atlanta.
“The cast just inside my hand here got all soft,” said Truex, who mentioned that the pain he had in his broken wrist while steering felt as if “somebody was hitting it with a hammer.”
“[Atlanta] is probably one of the hardest tracks to drive on as far as how much you turn the wheel, how many times you’re catching the car,” he continued. “…This is a tough place, and I don’t think Richmond will be quite as hard on it, so we’ll just see.
“I think, maybe it’s just gotten wet from sweat or something and softened up, so we’ll have to look into that.”