Martin Truex Jr., winner of two races in this year’s NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup and a title favorite, was minding his business at Talladega Superspeedway. That’s what you have to do, because avoiding wrecks is key. But engine issues sent him to the garage, potentially knocking him out of the Chase.
Truex, who sat on pole at Talladega, could be out of the Chase due to the engine. That’s because Talladega, as random and unpredictable as it is with the wrecks, is a cutoff race for the latest edition of the Chase format with a “playoff” style. The 12 drivers remaining in title contention will be cut to eight at the end of this race, and Truex, who doesn’t have a win in this round that would send him straight to the next one, had the engine go up in smoke at lap 41.
Truex is notorious for his bad luck on the race track, so the two wins so far in the Chase—and his victories earlier in the year—seemed like a sign of changing times. Nope. Definitely not.
The thing keeping Truex’s hopes alive is that Talladega is that the race track is known for carnage. There’s likely to be a “Big One” wreck (or two), which could take out some key title contenders. According to ESPN’s Bob Pockrass, Truex will need Chase drivers Joey Logano, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin to have trouble in order for him to stay in the hunt.
It’ll just depend on how things go from here.