Martin Truex Jnr has admitted relief at finally scoring a rostrum result in the NASCAR Nextel Cup at Texas Motor Speedway at the weekend, bringing his run of bad luck to a resounding end.

The Dale Earnhardt Inc ace had begun last weekend's Dickies 500 from his first-ever Nextel Cup pole position, and went on to convert that into a third-placed finish, behind race-winner Jimmie Johnson and runner-up Matt Kenseth.

"It was ok," the double NASCAR Busch Series Champion said with more than a hint of understatement after the race. "We pretty much struggled with the car throughout the race, and I'm real proud of the work the guys did in the pits. I complained about the car all day long, but we just kept working on it and making it better and better, and it feels good to get a good finish finally.

"I didn't want to wreck, but I was hoping I would get the guys [Johnson and Kenseth] to slow down enough so I could catch them and maybe make it a three-man race. That's all you can do. We didn't have a good enough car to win obviously, and we were happy to be where we were. We definitely had a shot and never gave up until it was over with. We had a great weekend and sat on the pole for the first time, and I'm just real proud of their efforts throughout the season."

Reflecting on his year as a whole, the 27-year-old - who finished 19th in the Nextel Cup in 2006 - acknowledged it had been a campaign of mixed fortunes, but one sweetened by having made it through to the Chase, albeit in twelfth position.

"We've had a real up-and-down sort of year," he admitted. "We made the Chase, which was a huge deal for us and, you know, we won our first race and thought we had a shot.

"We've really run well in all the Chase races and haven't had much to show for it, so it's been frustrating. For them [the team] to keep their heads up, work as hard as they have and keep bringing race cars for me as good as they have, I'm real proud of them.

"We've had a rough stretch here, so it feels good to finally get them something they deserve."


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