Starting 26th, Truex says ‘We have a lot of work to do’ heading into Daytona

Feb 15, 2018; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (78) and NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (18) race in front of NASCAR Cup Series driver Clint Bowyer (14) during the Can-Am Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Martin Truex found himself and the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota stuck in a game of single-file follow the leader during the second Can-Am Duel 150 at Daytona International Speedway. He was forced to settle for a 12th-place finish in the qualifying race for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

The reigning NASCAR Cup Series Champion will line up in the 26th position, on the outside of Row 13, for Sunday’s 60th running of The Great American Race.

“Judging from how we ran tonight, we have a lot of work to do before the (Daytona) 500,” said Truex. “The only good news is that we didn’t get involved in any wrecks and kept our No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota from sustaining any damage.

“We got to the front and but couldn’t stay there. Finishing 12th is not what we wanted or expected. We need to make some corrections in our upcoming practice sessions the next two days. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do to the car regarding adjustments at a superspeedway race. We’ve been in this position before and, hopefully, we can find more speed and better handling before Sunday.”

Truex lined up 13th, on the inside of Row 7, under the lights for the 60-lap, 150-mile race on Daytona’s high-banked 2.5-mile oval. He was able to move the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota into seventh when the caution flag waved on Lap 12.

The Mayetta, N.J., native came down pit road a lap later for four tires and fuel from his Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY crew. He returned to the action in eighth place on Lap 15 and moved into fourth by Lap 21.

With the field lined up single-file in the top lane, Truex tried to create a second line down low. His fellow competitors behind were wary to follow, however, and he dropped to 11thby Lap 32.

He tried the low line again on Lap 43 but, again, there were no takers and he was 14th by Lap 45.

The No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota slid into 10th place with five laps remaining but lost two positions in the final five laps.

Chase Elliott won the Can-Am Duel No. 2. The balance of the top 10 were, in order: Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Paul Menard, Trevor Bayne, Denny Hamlin and AJ Allmendinger.

The race had one caution for three laps and there were six lead changes among four drivers.

Sunday’s Daytona 500 will air live on the FOX network at 12:30 p.m. MT (2:30 p.m. ET).

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