On Sunday at Watkins Glen, Martin Truex Jr. was in a position to strike if the last-lap battle for the win on Sunday between Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski turned chaotic. Instead, he had to settle for a third-place finish.
“We had so much speed in the short run, and after we put that last set of tires on, we almost got the lead but we just couldn’t quite run with [Busch] after that…After all those restarts, all those heat cycles in the tires,” Truex told ESPN.
“Both the 2 [Keselowski] and the 18 [Busch] were just a tick better than we were on the longer runs and on the older [tires] with built-up air pressures. We just missed it a little bit.”
But Truex was still one of the biggest movers in the Chase picture, as he and Keselowski each climbed four spots in the standings. Truex, who had entered Sunday as one of the two Wild Card holders, elevated himself from 14th to 10th in the championship.
Throw in his victory at Sonoma and it would appear that he’s earned himself some breathing room with four races to go before the Chase begins on Sept. 15 at Chicagoland. But there’s still a fair bit of racing to go before NASCAR’s post-season roster is settled.
So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.
It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.
In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.
“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.
Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.
For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.