It has not been the ideal start to the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs for regular-season champion Martin Truex Jr. After the first two races at Darlington and this past Sunday's race at Kansas, Truex finds himself below the playoff cut line heading to Bristol.
Truex's day at Kansas ended rather quickly after he suffered a punctured tire less than five laps into the Hollywood Casino 400.
Kansas proved to be a rough place for a number of the 16 playoff drivers.
Truex's flat tire sent him into the wall, and the damage that resulted was too severe for him to continue.
After he was released from the infield care center, Fox's Bob Pockrass caught up with Truex, who called the circumstances unfortunate.
Martin Truex Jr. on what he felt before his tire blew (Goodyear reports it was a puncture) and his outlook for Bristol, where he possibly could enter below the cutline. He has four top-10s in 32 career Cup starts on the Bristol concrete. pic.twitter.com/51zoqhxOEY
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) September 10, 2023
"Really unfortunate, very unlucky," Truex said. "It took off really tight, knew something was up then it blew a right rear. Not really sure what happened, obviously it blew in the worst place possible. So just, man, I hate it for my guys. We had an awesome race car we were going to have a really good day. Just not real sure how to get some luck right now."
Saturday's Bristol night race will be a very trying night for the 2017 series champion, as he will almost have to win the race to make the next round. This is crazy since he started the playoffs tied with William Byron for the most playoff points in the series.
Truex has yet to win at Bristol in his career, but his sponsor Bass Pro Shops is the title sponsor for the event, so perhaps that may favor him.
Truex finds himself in a hole, and being behind the eight-ball in the competitive Cup playoffs isn't a good thing. An exit this early for the driver who has arguably been the most consistent all season would really be shocking.
The pressure will certainly be on Truex all night Saturday.
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