Martin Truex Jr spent most of Saturday night in the emergency room of an Atlanta hospital, waiting to pass a kidney stone that had begun to cause him considerable discomfort during Cup practice earlier in the day.

Having successfully passed the stone, the Earnhardt Ganassi driver was released late Saturday night, eliminating the need for a relief driver in Sunday's race. Former Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr was standing by in case he was needed, but was relegated back to the role of spectator when Truex returned to the track.

"It's a tough weekend when the hardest thing you have to pass is a kidney stone," joked Fox TV broadcaster Mike Joy during the 330-lap Kobalt Tools 500, as Truex showed he had what it took to pass plenty of cars on track.

Having started 23rd, he finished tenth, but only after being unable to hold the pack at bay following the final caution of the day. The #1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet had been sitting pretty in fourth - ironically the result of a botched four-tyre change that left him with just two fresh corners - as the green-white-chequer conclusion got underway following Robby Gordon's blowout, but succumbed to better-shod rivals and slumped to tenth by the finish. After the pains of recent weeks, however, Truex wasn't too downhearted.

''It was a great run for everybody on this team, especially after the luck we have had the past two weeks,'' he pointed out, ''It was just a really good comeback effort. I am really proud of [crew chief] 'Bono' [Kevin Manion] and all the guys. The car was really good on long runs. We tried a number of different air pressure changes to just get the car where we wanted it. We probably didn't need that last caution flag, but it was a nice solid run for us and we'll take it.''

by Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

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