Martin Truex Jr. and his younger brother Ryan have shared many racing highs and lows over the years. But this weekend the two shared a major accomplishment, finishing runner-up in their respective races at Daytona International Speedway.
Ryan Truex went first with his bridesmaid finish for the Daytona race weekend. The younger Truex, in his No. 81 Toyota Osaka Parts Distributor Toyota for Hattori Racing, finished just behind veteran Johnny Sauter in the Truck race on Friday.
“Yeah God, if that wreck wouldn’t have happened, I think we had him,” Ryan Truex said after his race on Friday. “The bottom was just the place to be all day. It seemed like you could hook up and bump draft to the front.”
“It just all came down to who could bump draft the best without locking up and staying out there,” Truex continued. “So, you just had to make the right moves and be there at the end.”
“And we were and unfortunately, it just didn’t end up in our favor.”
The elder Truex brother Martin finished second to Denny Hamlin just two days later in the Daytona 500. He ran runner-up by just 0.010 seconds, the closest margin of victory ever in the history of the Great American race.
“It was really amazing what we were able to do all day and really just control the race the way we did,” Truex Jr. said after Sunday’s race. “The last lap, we were in great position behind Matt (Kenseth). Felt like if Matt would have stayed in front of us, maybe he would have probably held off Denny (Hamlin).”
“Matt went up to try to block his run, Denny cut inside, made it three-wide. Just side drafted me off of turn four all the way to the line. I felt like I had enough momentum to keep him behind me. I did that all the way up until that last couple feet. He just shot out that last couple inches on me right before the line.”
“Circumstances didn’t work out quite as well as they should have. I could have done a little bit different coming to the line.”
“It is what it is.”
Although both Truex brothers fell one position short of claiming victory, both overcame great odds to even take the checkered flags in their respective runner-up positions. Ryan literally was without a ride of any kind weeks before the race and Martin had to go to a backup car after wrecking his primary in the second Duels race.
“I didn’t have a ride a few weeks ago, and Hattori Racing called me and wanted me to come drive for them,” Ryan Truex said. “So you can’t give up. It’s easy to get down on yourself. It’s easy to quit. You just have to keep going.”
“I’m at the track every weekend talking to whoever will talk to you, and you don’t say no to an opportunity. That’s what we did this weekend, and it worked out for us.”
Older brother Martin also had to face some adversity prior to finishing second, having to race an untested backup car under the bright lights of Daytona.
“It’s been a tough season down here,” Truex said. “Our guys worked really, really hard. I think our backup car was the best car we had. In a way, it was a blessing to get in that wreck the other day.”
Although they may have just missed Victory Lane, both Truex brothers felt their near win positioned them for even better opportunities in the future.
“At first, it just looked like Daytona would be our only race but the more we got to talking, the more we were going to try to run a full season,” Ryan Truex said after his successful run. “Obviously, we have a few races to fill out, but this finish helps out a lot.”
“I hope that was enough for us to go full-time, and like I said, we’ve got a little bit we’ve still got to get sorted out for some races, but we’ll be in Atlanta and we’ll be at Martinsville, and we’re second in points right now, I think, so if we can continue that streak, we’ll be good to go.”
Big brother Martin echoed his brother’s thoughts, especially regarding the upcoming race in Atlanta and the 2016 season overall.
“It’s always really nice when you come out of this race with a good day,” Truex said. “You start off with that momentum. You’re not 30 points behind. You don’t have to build another racecar.”
“So there’s a lot of things that are positive about starting the season off right. Obviously, we’re looking forward to Atlanta, absolutely. I think it’s going to be an incredible race. Lower downforce on the racecars than last year. I think the cars are going to be a real handful. It’s going to be exciting.”
“I’m looking forward honestly to just kicking off that part of the season, getting to work, seeing how our cars are, where we stack up to the competition, then compete for wins, try to get back to where we were last year.”
“The anticipation is high and going into the rest of the season with a little bit of momentum is always a good feeling.”
And while both Truex brothers would have loved to have been in the bride rather than bridesmaid positions, they acknowledge that it was indeed a huge weekend for the entire Truex family.
“Really proud of Ryan for what’s he’s done,” Martin said. “He’s had a rough go of racing the last couple years, trying to get a solid opportunity.”
“These days with it being hard to find funding, he’s been kind of shunned by a lot of teams he’s drove for, did a good job for, because he couldn’t find that backing. So, it was great to see him persevere through those times and find a truck to drive.”
“And it was great to see him back and excited about the opportunity. Obviously, he did a great job. He’s a great driver.”
“It’s great to see my brother back on the track.”