Martin Truex Jr wins the I Love New York 355 at Watkins Glen holding off a charging Matt Kenseth. Truex had to hold off the Joe Gibbs veteran while saving fuel in which he was told he was several laps short. This win marks Truex’s 4th win of the season and the 11th of his career.
“That’s so stressful to just let guys go by for the lead, I’d never had to do that before,” Truex said. “But I’ve got so much trust in Cole [Pearn], he was telling me what to do. He knew based on our lap times how fast we were going and what we needed to do. “Then, at the end there, just it’s so hard there to let guys pass you for the lead. You’ve just got to listen to your crew chief and, luckily for me, I’ve got the best one in the business, and I just believe in him so much, and I just do what he says and it seems to work out,” said Truex.
With the race being in New York this win is big for Truex due to it being so close to his home state of New Jersey which neighbors New York.
“I’ve wanted to win here a long, long time. This is a special place; I think back in the ’90s, watching my dad run here, coming here as a kid and spending time in the garage, just walking around and wishing someday to race here, let alone win. This is a big one for our team.”
Matt Kenseth who needed a win came in the second spot just yard behind Truex.
“Honestly, I don’t even think about the playoffs. I more think about coming here for however many, 15, 17, 18 years, whatever it’s been, and not really having a win or an opportunity to win and never even really been that great here.”
“I felt like we had a top-five car. Obviously, we had good fortune there at the end with our track position and our fuel mileage and all that to stay in it and have a shot at it, but man, when it’s that close and you see him saving and you’re saving and then you go after him there on that last lap, it’s disappointing not to get it. Especially when I saw him miss Turn 6, I was like, ‘Man, I’m going to have a shot,’ and he was so fast I still couldn’t get to him getting into 7.”
Daniel Suarez came in third a new career best for the JGR rookie from Mexico.
“I think I mentioned in the beginning of the year that I was so looking forward to the second half of the year, as well, because I knew that the second half of the year we were going to be more competitive,” said Suarez.
“All the hard work from my team and from everyone in the 19 group and from Joe Gibbs Racing, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Toyota, it’s paying off. In the beginning of the year, we were not like that. I wasn’t the same driver, either, and now I feel like we are moving in the right direction.
“We have speed pretty much every weekend now where we are running in the top 10. I don’t think it’s a surprise anymore to run in the top 10. We just have to keep it up. We have to keep ourselves calm, and hopefully, we can catch a break in the next few weeks, month or so, to try to make it in the playoffs.”
Adding to a disastrous final Dale Earnhardt Jr’s day would end early dropping a cylinder in the first stage.
“We had a problem with the valve train and we can’t fix it, It’s been a really difficult week. We’ve been way down on speed and we had a pretty good car at Sonoma, so I was kind of looking forward to coming here. But, the guys worked really hard. We changed this car inside and out twice this weekend. And, we had made it better and we were kind of hanging in there. I think we had a shot at maybe a top 20 at best. But man, we showed up and we were about four seconds off.
“We have to hold each other up and lift each other up. When it gets difficult like this. We’re a pretty close group. I don’t anticipate the challenges and adversity we are facing to be detrimental to our team going forward. We have to be able to deal with stuff like this. This is racing and you are going to have to go through these kinds of days. It has been a difficult year, but I’ve had more challenging times for sure. I still feel like we will have some things to be proud of before the end of the season. It is just not going to be this weekend.”
Image Credit – Getty Images – Jared Tilton – NASCAR