Martin Truex Jr survived an incident in his Gatorade Duel race to retain his pole position for Sunday's Daytona 500.
Truex had secured his place at the head of the field during last weekend's qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway, but despite the top two drivers being locked into position, could have been sent to the back of the field if he had been forced to switch to a back-up car.
Luckily for the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver, he managed to avoid contact with the wall after a small touch from David Ragan turned him into a spin and came home in 21st place in his race.
"We had such a good car there,” he said. “It was really fast, it was just a little bit on the tight side there on that first stop. They loosened it up and it went instantly just way too loose. I was holding my own out front, but once I got back there in line behind some cars, I was just hanging on. Somebody got in my quarter panel and got me loose and that was it. It just sucked it right around. We know at least what to work on from here on out.
"I saw where the wall was and I was doing my best to make sure I didn't head for it. It was luckily just a minor incident. Feel bad for my guys because I really wanted to win that thing and we had a good shot at it there, I just got myself in the wrong spot there with a car that wasn't right. You are just looking around and looking in your mirrors hoping, praying, there is no two ways about it, you have to have luck on your side. I knew I could keep it off the wall. But I didn't know who was behind me, what their position, whether there was other car spinning or anything. You kind of spin out with your fingers crossed hoping nobody else hits you.
"The right rear corner got tore up a little but I think that is where the #6 or somebody got in to me a little bit, I'm not sure. The splitter braces were bent a little bit but other than that, the car is in perfect shape. It should be fine."
Admitting he was disappointed not to have been able to challenge for victory, Truex said the team now has work to do to get the car at its best for race day.
“I am a little disappointed in it,” he said. “We had a strong car, we were doing everything right and we just over adjusted on that first stop, there is no two ways about.
"[The car] is unbelievable, the speed and the power. The engine is incredible. It is the best car as far as speed goes that I have ever had at any plate track. That is encouraging, we just need to work on the handling and get it a little bit better."