Nascar

Truex overcomes big hurdle to return to frontrunning form at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 25: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, sits on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 25: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, sits on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)

An apologetic Martin Truex Jr. regretted not being of more help to Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch on two late restarts, but was thankful to finish fourth in Sunday's Brickyard 400.

That's because Truex's result could have been much, much worse.

Having just pitted under green when a caution flag waved on Lap 92 of a race eventually extended four laps past the advertised 160-lap distance, Truex went from running in the top 10 to being 25th and a lap down before getting a much-needed wave-around when the next caution came out on Lap 108.

Starting at the tail end of the longest line, Truex drove hard and used deft pit strategy to climb into the top five in the race's final stages.

"We had to pass a lot of cars," the Furniture Row Racing driver said. "We passed a lot of cars, and Cole (Pearn, crew chief) worked the strategy out and got us the track position, and then we just picked them off one at a time."

Lining up third on the final restart behind race winner Busch, who was flanked to the outside by second-place finisher Joey Logano, Truex lost a position to Harvick in the final two laps.

On the previous restart, Truex lined up behind Harvick -- who lost a couple spots just before the final restart.

"Just feel a little bad for Kevin (Harvick) there," said Truex, who was hampered on restarts by issues with second gear. "I kind of screwed him. I was trying to push him, just mistimed it. It's hard to see the lines down there when you are behind a guy. I just totally forgot to ask my spotter for help and a heads up when we were getting five/10 feet from that line. I feel bad I messed him up a bit there.

"Just feel a little bad for Kevin (Harvick) there," said Truex, who was hampered on restarts by issues with second gear. "I kind of screwed him. I was trying to push him, just mistimed it. It's hard to see the lines down there when you are behind a guy. I just totally forgot to ask my spotter for help and a heads up when we were getting five/10 feet from that line. I feel bad I messed him up a bit there.

"I kind of messed Kyle (Busch) up on the last one, too, and he still won. I guess at the end of the day we were on our own out there in the front row, I guess, without me behind them, because I wasn't getting good starts."

Truex's fourth-place finish snapped a skid of four consecutive races without a top-10 finish after opening the season with 14 top 10s in the first 15 races.

"We've been running the same, we've been running good all along. It's just we've had a real bad string of bad luck," Truex said of the past four weeks. "We had a good car last week and got caught a lap down, had a good car today and got caught a lap down. Just fortunately it was early enough that we were able to overcome it. We had to work for that one today.

"Last week we were in the same position but it was 40 laps to go when it happened. This weekend we had some time to overcome it. It's nice to be back on track. The guys have been doing a good job. I feel like we didn't really lose our momentum; we just lot a bit of our luck, and hopefully now it's back."

Truex believes had he not been bitten by the ill-timed caution on Sunday, he could have actually finished a couple spots better.

"All in all a good run for us," he said. "I felt like with the positions we got, we probably should have run second, and we ran fourth, because I messed up a little on those restarts."

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