DOVER — With a couple fresh tires and a pair of laps to work with, Martin Truex Jr. had visions of catching Jimmie Johnson before the finish line.
Instead, Kasey Kahne cut off Truex’ run at the leader before it ever got started.
So despite leading the most laps for the third straight week, Truex again left without a victory to show for it in Sunday’s FedEx 400 Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.
Truex finished just sixth. He wasn’t too happy about it, either, bumping Kahne’s car after they crossed the finish line.
On the final restart, third-place Truex thought he had edged enough past Kahne’s back bumper to slide past him.
But Kahne, who had Kevin Harvick on his right, stayed low and Truex eventually had to back off. The incident seemed to kill any momentum that Truex had.
“I kind of was inside him and he ran me down on the apron,” said Truex. “So I either had to let off or wreck all of us. So I decided to let off.”
Kahne, who finished fourth, said he didn’t feel like he had much other choice. With Johnson in front of him and Harvick to the outside, there wasn’t any other place to go than to stay low.
“They laid back behind me to get a run on me, obviously,” Kahne said about Truex. “The spotter said I was clear, so I just went to the bottom getting into (Turn) 1. I think he was a little upset ... but I didn’t really know what else to do other than go there.”
Even though he looked like a top contender most of the hot afternoon, Truex said he never had a great deal of confidence in his car.
With 131 laps led, he was one of only five drivers to reach double digits in laps led. Denny Hamlin was second with 118.
In the last three races, Truex has led a total of 357 laps but has nothing better than a fifth-place finish to show for it.
“We had a good car today but it was never right,” he said. “We were never right yesterday (Saturday) all through practice. We made some changes today and made some gains on it but never really got it where we needed it.
“Clean air was huge. When we were out front we were OK. It just never turned good enough all day long. Eventually it just caught up to us.”
Even with the lack of victories, Truex is having a great start to the season. He’s second in the Sprint Cup points standings, 44 points behind Harvick.
Both drivers have 12 top-10 finishes in the first 13 racess.