Setting sun costs Truex chance of ending 41 race skid Sunday at Homestead

HOMESTEAD, Fla — Martin Truex Jr. was one pit stop away from potentially ending his 41 race winless drought during Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. As bad of luck as Truex has had this season, he got a lucky break by pitting on Lap 209 of Sunday’s 267 lap event and then a caution coming out one lap later.

By virtue of him not falling a lap down during his stop, he’d cycle to the lead and not have to pit again under caution. Truex inherited the lead on Lap 214 but was passed by teammate Denny Hamlin in a bold three wide battle for the lead on the restart. However, Truex got Hamlin back four laps later and was well on his way to scoring his first victory since Richmond on Sept. 11, 2021.

Tyler Reddick crashed on Lap 244 and brought everyone back down pit road one more time. It’s then that Truex’ race changed again. He was spun into his pit stall by second place Kyle Larson and had a slow stop as a result.

“I was just going behind him, and he had a hard left and was hard on the brakes at the same time, and I ran right into the back of him,” Larson said of the contact. “My team said he was late turning into his stall, but if it was my fault, I’m sorry. I don’t think it was, but it’s hard to see on this pit road.

“I don’t know if fans and people realize when you’ve got debris all over your windshield, the sun shining straight in your face, it’s hard to see your stall, so I hate that (it happened),” he said. “He was definitely the one I was going to have to beat. He was really good that last long run too.”

As mad as Truex could have been, he agreed with Larson on the incident.

“Yeah, it was definitely a little bit of both of that,” Truex said. “It’s really hard to see through these windshields right now with the sun like that and all the stuff covering it. I did see my box late for sure, so I slowed down before I turned out of the way of the 5 there.

“Obviously partly on me. I didn’t expect to get turned around. I’m glad nobody got hurt there.

“But overall it’s just disappointing. To have a good day going like that and have a shot at winning and couldn’t close the deal. I hate it for my team. It’s been one of those years.

“Thanks to Bass Pro and Johnny and Tracker and Cabela’s, everybody that supports us and sticks behind us, all our fans. We’re going to keep digging. We’re going to win a bunch of races. We’ve just got to get through this rough patch.”

Truex has 15 top 10 finishes, two of which in consecutive weeks now including 5 top 6 finishes in the last 6 races at Homestead.

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