NASCAR catches Martin Truex Jr. using illegal rear spoiler, docks him playoff points

Martin Truex Jr. has been docked 20 playoff points after NASCAR found a rear spoiler violation on his No. 19 car Sunday during pre-race inspections ahead of the Round of 8 race at Texas.

His crew chief, James Small, has been ejected from the race for the incident. His team will be fined $35,000. The spoiler was confiscated.

Truex Jr. already faced an uphill battle to reach the Cup Series championship at Phoenix. He’ll likely need to win at Texas or next weekend at Martinsville to advance past this round.

Following his penalty, Truex Jr. sits 51 points behind the cut-off line. He conducted his weekly virtual news conference looking relaxed on a boat, but he’s no doubt feeling intense pressure now.

Truex Jr. has never won at Texas, but he does have a pair of victories in his career at Martinsville, including one on June 10. Next weekend, then, might represent a better shot at earning a first-place finish.

He’s been in a rut of late, though, failing to run above seventh place in any of his past three outings.

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