Martin Truex Jr.'s good run came undone after an untimely speeding penalty
Martin Truex Jr. led the field for 103 laps around Atlanta Motor Speedway in Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series EchoPark 250, but was forced to the back of the field after a speeding penalty with 43 laps to go. The former Cup Series champion was left to pick his way through the field, leaving him out of time to mount a challenge against eventual winner Justin Allgaier.
“I’m not sure, to be honest with you. We got back up there, but was kind of out of tires at that point," Martin Truex Jr. said when asked if the speeding penalty cost him the race. "We got close, but in the last 10 laps, the right rear was really smoked off. I just had to use too much to get there, but I just want to thank everybody at Stanley and JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) for letting me do this. It was fun until I screwed it up. I hate it for these guys, but just came up a little short at the end there.”
Despite the pit road incident on lap 114, Martin Truex Jr. ended up winning the first two stages of the race and seemed like he had the car to beat all day long. Unfortunately for Truex Jr., the incident on pit road came too late in the going and the subsequent penalty pretty much cost him the win at Atlanta.
Keep in mind that Martin Truex Jr. was making his first start in the Xfinity Series in over 10 years, and had he won, it would have been his first win in the series since 2006.
Truex Jr.'s loss was Allgaier's gain, who managed to lead 47 laps and defeat a Cup Series champion en route to earning his first win of the season.
Over in the premier series, however, Martin Truex Jr. has been enjoying a three-race top 5 streak, which included a win in last Sunday's Instacart 500 at Phoenix Raceway. The Mayetta, New Jersey native will be looking to put today's disappointment behind him with another Cup Series victory in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 this Sunday, Mar. 21.