Truex gambles big in Vegas, but comes up short of the win

When a late caution set-up a two-lap dash to the checkered flag, crew chief James Small decided to keep Truex out on track. He was running inside the top-five before the caution.

The rest of the lead lap cars pitted with most opting to take two tires, leaving Truex all alone out on track.

Truex held firm on the initial restart, but was unable to hold off William Byron into Turn 3.

He lost several more positions on the final lap, but still brought home his first top-ten of the season with a seventh-place result. 

Truex was faced with a similar decision last year, that time choosing to take tires ahead of the green-white-checkered finish. He finished eighth in that race.

“Not very confident,” admitted Truex, when asked if he thought he could hold off the field for two whole laps.

“We just hoped we would get to the white (flag) and maybe they would crash. We did okay the first lap. We held second there for almost a whole lap and got into one in second after the white so we were in pretty good shape there, but got real tight in one and two and got freight-trained down the backstretch. But all in all, it was a good gamble and a strong day by our Bass Pro Camry and all of our guys. At the end, we just took a gamble. We were going to run probably at best third or fourth and threw a hail Mary and finished seventh so not really a big deal there.”

Pitting may have seemed obvious to outside watchers, but his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin did just that. Although he restarted on the outside of the second row, he actually got shuffled back outside the top-ten before the checkered flag. 

“I wasn’t sure, you never know,” Truex said of the finish. “If you can somehow get a good restart, get to the white flag and they crash then you win the thing. It almost happened. We were second at the white, we were second going into turn one on the last lap and just got tight and got in a bad spot coming off of turn two and lost momentum down the back.

“All in all, it was a solid day for our Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD and everybody did a good job. Could never quite get it where we need it. I think we were about a third-place car, maybe fourth. Just a good, solid day. We’re in Vegas, we might as well roll the dice and like everybody says, we come here to gamble. I was proud of James (Small, crew chief) for that. Last year we didn’t and it bit us. We gave up a few spots, but all in all it was a solid day.”

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