FORT WORTH, Texas — Martin Truex Jr. nearly won last week at Martinsville Speedway after having to start at the rear of the field for failing postqualifying inspection.
He will have a similar challenge Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway as he will drop from the 13th starting spot to the rear of the field prior to the start of the race because of an engine change.
NASCAR announced late Saturday night that Truex would be starting at the rear.
Can he do it? The Furniture Row Racing driver posted the third-fastest lap in the final practice Saturday afternoon but was just 14th on the chart of the fastest 10 consecutive laps.
Truex has never won a Cup race at Texas but had six consecutive top-10 finishes before an accident ended his day early in April. He has led 363 laps in the last five Texas events.
The 2017 Cup champion has a 25-point cushion on the current playoff cutoff going into the second race of the three-race third (semifinal) round of the Cup playoffs. He nearly earned an automatic bid to be one of the four drivers vying for the title in two weeks at Homestead, but he tangled while leading with Joey Logano on the final lap at Martinsville and finished third.
“If you get in a certain situation where it would be wise to remember what happened, that’s there,” Truex said Friday. “I really haven’t thought past that. I know what’s on the line this weekend.
“It takes a lot of focus and mental strength to do this job. And to do it at a high level. I am going to approach this weekend like I do any other.”
Also dropping to the rear prior to the Texas race will be Daniel Suarez (starting 19th, engine change), Chris Buescher (starting 21st, engine change) and Matt DiBenedetto (starting 31st, transmission change).