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Reigning NASCAR Cup series champion Martin Truex Jr says he and his Furniture Row Racing team beat themselves at Richmond after pit problems and a failed strategy left him 14th.
Truex qualified on pole and led a race-high 121 laps as he competed for the win ahead of the penultimate caution with 10 tours remaining.
But he opted to pit under caution on lap 390 of 400, and his crew needed an extra crank on the jack to get the left-side tyres off the car and it dropped him to 11th.
He then made up three places before a final caution with three laps to go and he pitted for fresh tyres in a strategic gamble that didn’t pay off, leaving him 14th and still chasing a first short track win.
“Tonight we beat ourselves, so that’s unfortunate,” said Truex. “[I’m] pretty disappointed that we didn’t get at least a chance.
“I don’t know what we have to do to win at one of these short tracks and get everything to go the way we need it to.
“The guys did a really good job with the car. We were awful at the start of the race and I thought we were really in trouble.
“[We] just fought all night long and tried to stick with it and make good adjustments, and put ourselves in position to try to win another one and just came up short.
“[I’m] frustrated, but proud of everyone for the effort and hopefully we’ll get them next week [at Talladega].”
The race was Truex’s 450th Cup start and he is now seventh in the standings, trailing Richmond race-winner Kyle Busch by 131 points.
Truex’s victory earlier in the season at Fontana means he is currently set for a playoffs place.