Stenhouse: “Generally, when I have a faster car, I just drive around the lapped cars that I’m lapping.”
Martin Truex Jr finished 2nd at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He was not pleased. Specifically, he wasn’t pleased with the lap car of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Truex spent several laps behind the #17.
In his mind, it was enough laps to ‘cost him the win.’ Here’s a summery of what Truex said after finishing 2nd to Brad Keselowski:
“Yeah, I’m a lot frustrated. Laps cars, they just have no respect for the leaders, Truex Jr stated after climbing from his machine at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “You’re running for the win. It’s completely uncalled for, ridiculous.”
“These cars, they punch such a big hole. It’s so bad in dirty air that he just completely killed us for 25-30 laps. To the point where my front tires were gone.”
“Once I finally got by him, Hell, I still run down the #2 in two laps from half a straight-away. We clearly had the best car and were in position to win.”
“You know, guys a lap down have to have a little bit more respect than that,” Truex concluded.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr on Martin Truex Jr
Ricky Stenhouse Jr was offered a chance to respond to the comments from Truex.
“To me I didn’t feel like we really held him off. If he was that fast, then he could have closed up to us,” Ricky Stenhouse Jr told Claire B. Lang on “Dialed In” via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“If leaders get within five car lengths of me, I let them go. Mike Herman Jr., my spotter, was updating me how far back (Truex) was. We were racing to try to get back on the lead lap.”
“I felt like there at a moment we were going to be able to catch Brad Keselowski. We were running faster lap times than he was. So, we were thinking, ‘hey, let’s just old school get our lap back and see how it falls.’ “
“But also he was catching Chase Elliott and was going to put him a lap down, and we wanted to make sure that if [Elliott] got lapped that we could get by him as quick as possible in case the caution came out and we could get the lucky dog that way as well.”
The first car one lap down gets their lap back if the caution flag drops. Stenhouse Jr was already in that position as Truex struggled to get by. However, at any moment, Keselowski could have lapped another driver. At that point, Stenhouse would have to pass said lap car.
“The way I see it, if Truex is fast enough and that much faster than me, then he could have caught us. If he would have caught us and got to within five car lengths, I would have let him go. He didn’t have any problem getting within five car lengths of Keselowski.”
Dirty air in NASCAR
“He talks about dirty air and things like that. I don’t know if he thinks that lapped cars have dirtier air coming off the car. Kind of confused me. Brad Keselowski, he restarted behind me, actually nose to tail with Truex and he passed us on the outside.”
“Generally, when I have a faster car, I just drive around the lapped cars that I’m lapping. It’s one of those things that I felt like me and my spotter and our team did the right thing for what we had going on.
“Once I slipped up a little bit, Truex closed within five car lengths and I pulled almost on the apron on the back straightaway to give him whatever lane he wanted and slowed up for him.”
That’s no exaggeration. Stenhouse moved all the way to the inside line down the back stretch. As if to say, ‘Here you go.’
“That’s the way I play it. When the leaders get to me, I give them a lane one way or the other when they get close, but he wasn’t close enough to just give up our whole lap or the positions I was racing for either.”