Ryan Truex: “We deserve to be in the playoffs”

Barry Cantrell/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

With the end of the regular season approaching, Ryan Truex believes he and Hattori Racing have shown that they’re deserving of a shot at the championship – though they may not get that opportunity.

“We’re proven we deserve to be in the playoffs,” Truex said after Sunday’s Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (CTMP).

Truex, 25, has been one of the bright spots of the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season – contending for a playoff spot in Japanese owner Shigeaki Hattori’s No. 16 Toyota in the midst of the first complete season in any of NASCAR’s three national series for both driver and owner.

Despite a tough three-race stretch with finishes of 20th or worse in June and July, Truex had managed to stay on the preliminary playoff grid for all but one race of the summer stretch prior to CTMP courtesy of his sixth-best 116 stage points and four top fives.

For a time on Sunday it didn’t appear that would change. Truex claimed the race’s second stage – his  second stage win of the season – and drove through the field to claim a fifth top five in the closing laps.

“I think I had a truck that could have at least competed for a win, especially when those guys got racing up there,” Truex said of the result. “I just lost too much time on the restart, and just couldn’t make it up.”

Strong run aside, the Truck Series’ lone trip to Canada proved costly for Truex’s playoff hopes. While the Mayetta, N.J. native did deliver a solid result, Austin Cindric’s victory guaranteed the Brad Keselowski Racing rookie into the postseason from 10th in the standings, removing one playoff position on points.

Truex, in sixth, took the fall. He trails ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes by seven points for the final current playoff position with just one race at Chicagoland Speedway remaining before the playoffs.

The younger brother of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series star Martin Truex Jr. will need to either make up the deficit on Rhodes or claim his first Truck Series win in Chicago to have keep his championship hopes alive.

“I don’t know how this is all going to shake out,” Truex said. “But, we’re a team that’s capable of putting up a fight for a championship and hopefully after Chicago we get to do that.”

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