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After strong performance, Martin Truex Jr. has to settle for sixth

Martin Truex Jr. had a dominating night in Texas, leading for 141 laps, that ended in the sixth spot after a last-minute decision to pit. Truex Jr. is frustrated with the result and says after the hard work, "it hurts."

Martin Truex Jr. led a race-high 141 laps but saw his chances of winning slip away late after not pitting during two late cautions, the first coming with 45 laps to go.

Among the lead-lap drivers, only Truex, who was leading, and Austin Dillon elected not to pit. Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet got loose in traffic shortly after the Lap 293 restart, triggering a 13-car crash that caused the final caution on Lap 295.

Truex again stayed out with the lead, but he quickly was gobbled up on the Lap 302 restart by winner Kyle Busch (one of six other drivers who didn’t pit under the last yellow).

Truex faded to sixth.

Crew chief Cole Pearn said he made the call not to pit under the cautions.

“I was hoping more cars would have stayed out, but when you have the dominant car that’s the only chance they have to beat you,” Pearn said. “By staying out and leading, we felt that having clean air would be an equalizer. But in that situation it’s easier to make the call when you’re running second and not first. We’ve seen this happen many times in NASCAR when the race leader is sometimes in a no-win situation. It was a bummer to finish where we did tonight.”

Said Truex: “The final caution really hurt us. When the race restarted for the final time, we just didn’t have the grip everybody else had. We were just sliding around.
“It’s frustrating, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I am proud of my guys for the race car they brought here to Texas. It was fast all night. It hurts not to have won this race, but we’ll have other opportunities.”