Martin Truex Jr. Falls Just Short in Title Defense at Homestead

Martin Truex Jr., the driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota, races during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2018, in Homestead, Florida.
Photo – Jared C Tilton/Getty Images

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – On an emotional night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. fell one place short in his bid for a second straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and his attempt to deliver a sterling going-away present to Furniture Row Racing.

Truex had the lead with 12 laps left in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at the 1.5-mile track, but his No. 78 Toyota was no match for Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford over the short run. Logano blew past Truex through turn one on lap 256 of 267 and beat the defending champ to the finish line by 1.725 seconds.

“It just didn’t play out the way we needed it to,” said Truex, who was in excellent position to track down Kevin Harvick for a possible victory when contact between the cars of Brad Keselowski and Daniel Suarez caused the fifth caution of the race and set up a short run that played into Logano’s hands.

“We were terrible for ten, 15 laps on new tires, and I was able to get a good restart at the end, luckily, and get out front—just I had nothing for him at the end. I needed 15, 20 more laps, and that’s just the way it goes. I’m not sure what else to say.”

Now that the season is over, Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn will move to Joe Gibbs Racing next season. Furniture Row Racing will close its doors, with no primary sponsor to replace 5-hour Energy, which announced in June its departure at season’s end.

“Really proud of everybody on our team for fighting hard this year to get where we were,” Truex said. “Without that last caution, it was in the bag, maybe, I think. We’ll see. But it hurts a little, and I’m going to miss all the guys and had a hell of a five years with this team.

“So just proud of them, and we’re going to celebrate no matter what tonight.”