Martin Truex Jr. was lamenting his luck after his playoff hopes suffered a setback with an unexpected early crash Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
He hit the wall in Turn 3 on lap four of the Hollywood Casino 400 from a blown right rear tire. Before the incident, Truex radioed to his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team that something might be wrong with his Toyota as he struggled to get through the corners and was losing positions.
The No. 19 had fallen outside the top 10 just before the crash. He started third.
“Just blew a tire, not real sure why,” Truex said. “Real shame, obviously. The car was really fast in practice and in qualifying, and I knew something was up right away. I was crazy tight, but I didn’t expect the tire to blow out.
“Very unlucky. We were going to have an awesome day; I felt really good about it. That’s racing, as they say.”
Goodyear reported a puncture was found in the right rear tire of Truex’s car. He is scored in last place (36th), the first driver to exit the race. It’s his second DNF of the season.
Truex entered the weekend sixth on the playoff grid with a 25-point advantage on the cutline after an 18th-place finish in the playoff opener at Darlington Raceway. The regular-season champion entered the postseason with 36 playoff points to fall back on.
“We’ll see what we have to do when today is over,” Truex said of the playoff grid. “You never know where it’s going to end up. A bunch of guys could have problems and we could be alright again. Ultimately, I just hate it for my team and everybody — all my sponsors and all our partners.
“We’ve had a great season. We had an awesome car today. I really felt we could go out and win this race and for that to happen, it just sucks. We don’t even get a chance. We shouldn’t even have showed up at this point, so it’s just a real punch in the gut.”
The final event of the first playoff round is at Bristol Motor Speedway, where Truex has never won in 32 starts — just four top-10s, including a runner-up finish in 2011.