NASCAR: Truex gambles, but falls short at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS - MARCH 5: William Byron, driver of the #24 Chevrolet, Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, and Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 5, 2023, in Las Vegas. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Martin Truex Jr. gambled on victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but Lady Luck wasn’t on his side, and he settled for seventh.

When in Vegas, roll the dice. Martin Truex Jr. gambled on a chance at victory, Sunday, when he stayed out on track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And he was the only driver who did.

He had little confidence he could hold off the Hendrick Motorsports trio of William ByronKyle Larson, and Alex Bowman, who dominated the Pennzoil 400. Who led a combined 241 of 271 laps.

Truex hoped he’d get to the white flag and a crash would break out, giving him the win. It didn’t (well, not when it would benefit him).

“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.”

He carried all the momentum he could into Turn 3, but his worn-out tires let him down. Byron powered by him up high and drove on to victory lane.

Salvaging a good finish

But all hope wasn’t lost. Truex still had enough left in his tires to possibly bring his car home to a runner-up finish. But the tire deficit was too much to overcome in the end. Bowman freight-trained him up high and hit the wall in the process, while Larson powered by on the inside.

Just as Bubba Wallace overtook him, a multi-car wreck broke out on the backstretch. NASCAR, however, didn’t throw the caution, which would give Truex a fifth-place finish. So Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric drove by him, and Truex brought his car home to a seventh-place finish.

All in all, he thought it wasn’t a bad gamble. Lady Luck, however, wasn’t on his side for victory.

“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.”

A solid day included stage finishes of sixth and fourth, and notching his 14th top-10 finish of his NASCAR Cup Series career at Las Vegas. Furthermore, his first top-10 of the season moves him up six spots to fifth in points, trailing leader Ross Chastain by just 27 points.

For a driver desperate for his first win in almost two years, sometimes, a solid finish is all for which you can ask.

Featured Image Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images