Battling for a position in the top 10 near the end of last Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. wrecked and suffered race-ending damage to his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after making contact with Daniel Suarez.
What was most notable about the incident was that Truex is a playoff driver and Suarez is not. Now instead of being on solid footing to advance to the Championship 4, Truex is ranked seventh out of eight playoff drivers and will likely need to win this weekend at Kansas Speedway or next weekend at Martinsville Speedway to keep his title hopes alive.
“I feel so bad for him,” Suarez said. “I feel like I ruined the race for him, but he just can’t be doing that. I’m racing as well here. I have a lot of respect for the guys in the playoffs. But one thing is respect; another is taking advantage of the situation. He wasn’t even close to being clear, and I don’t know why he did that. We’re in the last 10 to 12 laps of the race, I’ve got tires, and he doesn’t have tires. I don’t know. I think he’s just got to be a little smarter.”
After seeing the replay of the contact with Suarez, Truex stopped short of taking responsibility or assigning blame on Suarez. “We touched, for sure,” he said. “It’s really fast right there, and, yeah, I hit the splitter and went straight to the fence. Tough spot to have contact like that. I don’t know. It is what it is.” Could a non-playoff driver once again affect a playoff driver’s race this weekend? Don’t bet against it.