Martin Truex Jr. brought home a third-place finish in Saturday night’s 407-lap overtime race at Richmond International Raceway. It was his career best Sprint Cup result at Richmond’s 0.75-mile short track.
Truex led six different times for a race high of 193 laps. He led 101 consecutive laps from 101 to 202.
Truex’s No. 78 Tanger Outlets Toyota was the dominant car on long runs, but was a tick off on short runs. And with seven cautions in the final 85 laps, the Furniture Row Racing driver never had the opportunity to take advantage of his long-run speed.
“I was off a little bit for five or six laps on restarts and then I would start to reel them in,” explained Truex, who won last week’s Southern 500. “I could pass them within 10 laps but just never got that opportunity because the caution would come out every time before it happened. Our Toyota was lights out on long runs and nobody could touch us, so that was a lot of fun.”
Truex also had to battle back from 27th place after he was called for a pit road speeding penalty following a Lap 265 caution.
With one lap remaining he was comfortably running second to Denny Hamlin, but then another caution came out. Truex was passed for the runner-up position by Kyle Larson, who had fresh tires for the green-white-checkered restart.
“All in all, it was an awesome night for us,” said Truex. “We had a great race car. We had a new sponsor on board with Tanger Outlets. We did everything pretty good tonight – it just didn’t work out to get the win, but really proud of the effort. We’ve struggled here at Richmond the last few times, and to do what we did tonight was just incredible.”
The top-10 finishers in order were: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Truex, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.
The race had 16 cautions for 89 laps and there were 21 lead changes among seven drivers.
The Richmond race marked the final Sprint Cup Series event of the regular season. The 10-race, 16-driver Chase playoffs starts next Sunday (Sept. 18) at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
With the driver points reset for the Chase, Truex ranks sixth with 2,006 points. All Chase drivers start with 2,000 points and receive an additional three points for each win during the 26-race regular season.
The 16-driver Chase lineup with reseeded points in parenthesis: Kyle Busch (2012), Brad Keselowski (2012), Denny Hamlin (2009), Kevin Harvick (2006), Carl Edwards (2006), Truex (2006), Matt Kenseth (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2006), Joey Logano (2003), Kyle Larson (2003), Tony Stewart (2003), Kurt Busch (2003), Chris Buescher (2003), Chase Elliott (2000), Austin Dillon (2000) and Jamie McMurray (2000).