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Truex Survives Las Vegas to Remain Above Cutline


(Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

LAS VEGAS — Martin Truex Jr. escaped Las Vegas with a ninth-place finish — his best result of the playoffs — to remain on the plus side of the cutline with two races remaining in the Round of 8.

After qualifying fourth on Saturday, Truex ended up finishing Stage 1 in sixth but endured a setback because of pit strategy. Rather than coming down pit road under caution for service, crew chief James Small elected to keep the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry on track to restart on the front row.

The track position that the team made with the pit call got lost as Truex began to struggle. He fell out of the top 10 and picked up damage, making his car difficult to handle. The 43-year-old from Mayetta, New Jersey, plummetted to 20th at stage end.

“I thought probably a third-place car, but once we got back there – 16th, 18th whatever it was – it was just really bad on the restart,” Truex said after the race. “I would lose three, four, five spots every time and then once we got strung out and got going, I would pick them off and work our way forward, but then we would get another caution and I would lose a couple more.

“The pit call obviously killed us in Stage 2.”

(Photo: Christopher Vargas | The Podium Finish)

Through attrition, Truex got back inside the top 10 to salvage the day.

“It was an uphill battle, but luckily at the end, we were able to have a couple of better restarts and at least maintain, and then work our way forward from there,” Truex said. “It was just trying to figure out how to minimize the damage and hope that we could get a longer run. We did at the end, which was really helpful. I don’t know what we had going on. Restarting up front, we were pretty good, and then on the long runs, really good.”

Truex has battled a slew of issues throughout the playoffs that nearly prevented him from advancing out of the Round of 12. After struggling at Darlington Raceway and enduring damage, he blew a tire just four laps in at Kansas Speedway and fell below the cutline. He ended up finishing 19th at Bristol Motor Speedway, which was enough to transfer.

In the second round, Truex finished no worse than 2oth but no better than 17th. He spun early at Texas Motor Speedway and faced wild cards in Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte ROVAL to make it through by 12 points over Ross Chastain.

As two races separate Truex from his sixth Championship 4 appearance in nine years, he’s just two points above the cutline.


Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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