BROOKLYN, Mich. — Martin Truex Jr. and Erik Jones finished second and third respectively in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race, giving Furniture Row Racing its best double result as a two-car team.
While it was a strong outing for the Denver, Colo.-based team, each driver was in position for the victory when the green flag waved for the final two-lap overtime shootout.
At the time of the final restart, Truex was positioned in first place while Jones was second. But as the drivers hit the throttle Kyle Larson managed to pass the two Furniture Row Racing cars and went on to claim the Pure Michigan 400 victory.
It did appear that Truex and Jones were going to finish 1-2 with both drivers having a safe margin in track position late in the race. But with four laps remaining in the scheduled 200-lap race, a caution was called for a multicar accident, which was then followed by a red flag for track workers to clean up the debris, resulting from the wreck.
“I just tried to do something a little different there with Larson behind me, but when he bumped me I spun the tires,” explained Truex. “The tires just got too cold under that red flag and not enough time to get them warmed up. Our car generally took a few laps all day to get warm, but while we had enough caution laps I could kind of keep heat in the tires. Just spun them a bit and he got a run and there was no way he was going to go around me on the bottom with all that stuff down there and I just went into (turn) one and spun the tires because they were so cold. It’s one of those deals, sometimes these things don’t work out.”
Truex, who led 57 laps in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, added, “We were on cruise control until that last one (caution) and then the red flag is really what hurt us. If we had stayed under yellow we would have been fine, just everything got cold and I couldn’t get enough heat in my tires. It’s part of the deal man, that’s how it goes.”
The good news for Truex, who won last week’s race in Watkins Glen, N.Y., is that he gained in driver points and now has a 129-point margin over second place Larson with three races remaining in the regular season. And thanks to third and first place finishes in the first two stages, Truex earned the most points in the race (52, seven more than race winner Larson).
In 23 races, Truex has four wins, 10 top fives and 16 top 10s. He also has 15 stage wins and has accumulated 35 playoff bonus points.
Jones, the 21-year-old rookie from Byron, Mich., scored his third straight top 10 and eighth of the season. The third place result equaled a season best – he also finished third at Pocono Raceway in June. He is currently 16th in driver points.
After qualifying eighth, Jones was steady all day in his No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry. He led twice for five laps and from Lap 134 on, he was positioned in second place for a good portion of that stretch on the 2.0-mile oval.
“Regarding the final restart Jones said, “It wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be (inside lane), but I thought we could get a good enough restart where we could at least battle through (turns) one and two and hopefully make something happen into (turn) three. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out, both of us couldn’t get going – Martin was spinning his tires and I was spinning my tires. He got a push from the 42 (Larson) and he passed us both. It’s unfortunate; I thought it was going to be a Furniture Row one-two (finish) either way. Wish the 5-hour ENERGY Camry could have had a shot at it, but it was a good day for us.”