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Martin Truex Jr. came within a handful of car-lengths of catching eventual race winner Brad Keselowski in the final laps Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In the end, he was left to lament being held up as he attempted a late-race charge.
“It was just lapped cars,” Truex told FOX Sports as he exited his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota with a second-place finish. “It was a shame we got put in that position on that last restart. But that’s the way the caution fell.”
Truex settled for his fifth straight top-five finish at Atlanta in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. He sprang into contention after a caution flag flew with 53 laps to go in the midst of a pit-stop cycle.
Truex, in his first season with JGR, gave chase to Keselowski’s Team Penske No. 2 Ford. But his path was blocked by a handful of off-the-pace cars, including the No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who placed 18th as the first driver one lap down.
“They built a great race car here, and man, I could taste that one. I really wanted that first Atlanta win,” Truex said. “Just the 17 rode there in front of us forever and ever running the bottom, and I kept telling him I needed the bottom, and these cars are just so bad in dirty air that he was holding me up really bad. Once I got around him, I drove — got to the 2 car in two laps. I just needed one more.
“Unfortunate we had a great car, and like I said, the guys did a great job. Just a little upset. We had the best car. We probably should have won that one.”