By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Starting from pole and leading 107 laps, Martin Truex Jr. looked to be the favorite to challenge teammate Denny Hamlin for the checkered flag late Sunday at Richmond Raceway.
Going for a third win and second in a row in the 2021 season, Truex has been fast where it counts… until a lap-294 pit stop when the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was caught speeding on pit road.
“The driver screwed up our chances there for sure,” Truex said.
The “screw-up” led to drive-through penalty which pushed the 2017 series champion to 12th spot, though still on the lead lap.
A long green-flag run saw Truex bump into the sixth spot before a late caution for a crash by Kevin Harvick shook up the race’s finishing order.
“The Auto Owner’s Toyota Camry was really fast,” he said. “Just like last week, we got off in the middle of the race and then stage three we got it dialed in and I got caught speeding on pit road. We had to drive all the way back through the field and under green, that was tough.”
Restarting seventh, Truex knocked off two more spots to manage a top-five finish, his fourth of 2021 and fifth straight at Richmond.
“We got all the way back to fifth,” he said. “A heck of an effort by the guys. I wish I hadn’t made that mistake so I could’ve seen what I could have done with them.”