Truex Jr. stands on pit road before qualifying for
Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup auto race at Talladega
Superspeedway on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in
Ala. — Martin Truex Jr. showed up at Talladega
Superspeedway determined to be at the front of the field
and in control of his chances in NASCAR's playoffs.
pole-winning run Saturday put him at the top of the field
for the critical elimination race.
turned a lap of 193.423 mph to earn the top starting spot
Sunday. The run came after NASCAR confiscated a bolt from
his Toyota, but Truex said he was not worried about
ramifications to his Furniture Row Racing team.
jack bolt issue is really not a big issue," Truex
said. "They just took the left front, so it's not a
big issue. It was a parts manufacturing issue, no big deal
two races in the first round of the Chase, Truex is
winless in round two but above the cutoff point. Four
drivers will be cut from the field on Sunday.
we have to do is make it through to the next one," he
said. "We've got some good tracks coming up for us
and (Sunday) is going to be a tough race. A lot is going
to happen, but we just have to hope for the best and do
the best job we can do.
feel good about my car and it's got a lot of speed in it,
inspection issue with Truex provided a little early drama
on qualifying day, as there was some speculation the team
could face a penalty. NASCAR typically issues penalties in
the middle of the week, and a point deduction could in
theory knock Truex out of the Chase.
NASCAR vice president of competition Scott Miller said a
points penalty is unlikely, and that Truex had no
competitive advantage. The bolt taken could have been
considered a safety issue, though.
would say it would be unlikely but it has to go through
our process," he said. "We don't typically do
that on a weekend. Because it is the playoffs, everyone
has a heightened sense of everything. This is no different
than things we have done all year, and we will treat this
one like we do all year long."
was unsure if NASCAR would accelerate its review process
to determine if a penalty will be issued before the race.
don't have any precedent for doing that," Miller
said. "We will be circling up and trying to figure
out the best way to proceed from this moment forward until
Keselowski, in nearly a must-win situation on Sunday,
qualified second. He won the knockout race in 2014 to
stave off elimination, and said his best starting position
at Talladega bodes well for him.
feel like qualifying well is certainly a very strong omen
for Talladega and Daytona," he said. "I think
all of the races I've won here, we've had good starts and
the races that we haven't won or been super-competitive we
usually don't have any speed in qualifying, so it's
certainly a confidence-builder.
not a guarantee by any means, but a confidence-builder
that you carry into this weekend and carry into (the)
won at Talladega in May and at Daytona in July.
Kenseth qualified third and was followed by Chase Elliott,
who is also in a must-win situation on Sunday.
Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were fifth and sixth and
Roush-Fenway Racing put three of its cars into the final
round of qualifying as Trevor Bayne was 11th.
out the top 12 were Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Austin
Dillon, Paul Menard and Reed Sorenson was 12th. It was a
huge drop-off for Sorenson, who was the fastest car in the
first round of qualifying.
also facing a must-win situation, and said he prefers that
to points racing all day at Talladega.
actually trying to lead every lap," he said.
"That's all I can do is try to go out there and lead
every single lap possible and put ourselves in position at
the end. Definitely want to be in the lead if we get down
to a shootout and try to defend from there, so we've got
our work cut out for us, but it's nothing we haven't done
the first round runs, NASCAR made the Joe Gibbs Racing
teams of Hamlin, Kenseth and Kyle Busch adjust the top of
their left-rear quarter panels. The teams were required to
go back through inspection and Miller said the body of the
cars had been manipulated.
doesn't have to be big to be an infraction," he said.
"It just has to be fair for everybody and that's what
we strive to do."
runner-up to Hamlin in the Daytona 500, is one of the many
drivers who doesn't plan to fade to the back of the field
on Sunday in an effort to avoid potential accidents. He's
said all weekend he feels more in control of his race if
he's near the front, and the pole position puts him right
where he wants to be.
strategy is to stay there, but the problem is that it's
pretty hard to do," he said. "It's definitely
the place to be to start the race. This is obviously a big
race with a lot on the line."