Martin Truex Jr. makes minor gaffe

JOLIET, Ill. -- Martin Truex Jr. almost damaged his championship hopes before the Chase began.

The Michael Waltrip Racing driver accidentally ran into fellow Chase contender Brad Keselowski as they were exiting the Chicagoland garage early during Friday's second practice due to a communication gaffe with a track official.

There was minimal damage to both cars, and they were able to return to the track to complete practice.

"I've done a lot of dumb s--- in my life, but ain't nothing ever topped that," Truex said with a smile.

Truex said he was watching the official who was holding one hand up as if he was telling drivers to stop before entering the track and waving with the other hand as if he was telling them to go.

"I got a little confused,'' Truex said. "I'm looking at him like, 'I think I should stop.' I looked up and Keselowski just slammed the brakes and I just hit him. My bad. Totally my fault.

"You get in a hurry getting in and out of the garage, and it was just kind of hard to see what the guy was doing."

Truex was concerned when he initially saw his car after the contact.

"I got a little nervous," he said. "I could see a little crack under the hood and it bent the hood hinge a little. But it scared the crap out of me."

Keselowski had slight cosmetic damage to the rear of his Penske Dodge, but it didn't slow him. He finished with the 16th best lap during the final practice.

"Brad said the official was waving at him," crew chief Paul Wolfe said. "He thought he was waving at him to stop so he stopped, and the 56 just ran right into the back of us.

"It didn't affect us other than losing a few minutes of practice."

Truex was 25th fastest in the last practice after topping the charts in the first practice.

"It's one of those deals you never want to happen. You've seen it happen before a few times and it's like, 'Damn, that must suck,' " Truex said. "It scared me pretty bad. I almost got rid of myself before it started."

Non-Chase driver Kyle Busch led the final practice. The fastest Chase driver was Denny Hamlin in fifth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick were the slowest Chase drivers at 31st and 41st, respectively.