Martin Truex Jr. knew the party was going to have to come to an end sometime, but even he couldn’t predict how tough returning to competition would be. The reining champion approaches Daytona in a different manner than the 1.5 mile tracks he dominated last year. He only cares about winning here, not stage points or consistency.
That could be tough, though, considering he will be starting 26th in Sunday’s race. That came courtesy of a 12th place finish in the duels, and he didn’t fare much better in the qualifying session before the duels either. It is obvious to those watching that Truex has a long way to go to recapture his form from last year.
He knows it, too.
?Judging from how we ran tonight, we have a lot of work to do before the (Daytona) 500,? Truex said via Mile High Sports. ?The only good news is that we didn?t get involved in any wrecks and kept our No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota from sustaining any damage.
?We got to the front and but couldn?t stay there. Finishing 12th is not what we wanted or expected. We need to make some corrections in our upcoming practice sessions the next two days. Unfortunately, there?s not a whole lot you can do to the car regarding adjustments at a superspeedway race. We?ve been in this position before and, hopefully, we can find more speed and better handling before Sunday.?
Searching for speed and handling sounds like a near impossible task, with the new rules seeming to promote selling out for one or the other. A few cars may have found a good balance, but most of the 2018 cars look to have sacrificed rear end stability in a search for all out speed at Daytona.
If Truex can’t find a solution in the coming days, the team might have to start his title defense in a hole.