AVONDALE, Ariz. - It appears there may be a strain in the relationship between driver Martin Truex Jr. and his crew chief, Kevin Manion.
Truex was extremely critical of Manion’s decision on the final pit stop with 40 laps remaining to stay out on the track and not pit. Most of the lead-lap cars pitted for two or four tires and Truex faded to seventh.
“It is my decision. I wanted to stay out. I thought out of 24 cars (on the lead lap) and the car was at the best and only had 26 green flag laps on it, I thought that was our best chance. I absolutely thought more guys would stay out,” Manion said.
“We just have to get our communication down to understand that we make calls on the pit box to win races. We don’t make calls to run seventh. We don’t make pit decisions to run us out of gas.
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“No matter what pit sequence we decide on the pit box, we get ridiculed and criticized by the driver on the race track. It is tough to swallow.”
Truex said the decision to stay out left him “a sitting duck.”
“It was unfortunate at the end. We stayed out. We were taking a gamble. If we pit, I don’t think we could have won so we stayed out and tried to do what we could do.”