October 5, 2016 –
It would be safe to say that Martin Truex Jr. has found his groove at Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of Saturday night’s Bank of America 500, the first race of Round 2 in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Truex’s first of four wins in 2016 came at Charlotte in the Memorial Day weekend Coca-Cola 600. It was nothing short of a dominating victory for the Furniture Row Racing driver as he led 392 of 400 laps for 588 miles in his No. 78 Toyota Camry. The laps led established an event record and the miles led was an all-time NASCAR record.
But the Charlotte track hasn’t always been good to Truex, who failed to post a top-five finish in his first 19 Cup races at the 1.5-mile oval. That statistic has taken a positive turn with Truex pocketing top-five finishes in his last three races at Charlotte – a fifth and third last year and a first this year.
“Charlotte was never one of my best tracks until recently,” said Truex, who will make his 399th career Cup start Saturday night. “We hit on something last year and things got so much better. We’re hoping that our setup will continue to be as good this weekend. I am confident it will be since we have plenty of history and data for the track. The biggest challenge is finding the right combination for our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota since we practice during the day and race at night.”
It would also be safe to say that Truex and the single-car Furniture Row Racing have also found a winning groove at other racetracks, scoring victories in two of the last three races and in three of the last five. He is coming off of a victory at Dover.
Truex’s average finish in the last five races is 2.6. He won the Southern 500 at Darlington, was third at Richmond, won at Chicago, placed seventh at New Hampshire and scored the win at Dover.
“It’s been a fairytale type of season so far,” said Truex. “But no matter how well we have raced lately, the bottom line is that 12 drivers – all capable of winning the championship – start the second round of the Chase with the same amount of points. It would be nonproductive to look in the rearview mirror or look past this weekend’s race.
“We have to go out there each week and try to be as prepared as we can. We’re not going to change who we are. We didn’t do that before the Chase started. We just got hot and we got momentum, and hopefully we don’t lose it.”
Truex leads the Sprint Cup Series with laps led at 1594. He has led at least one lap in 19 races and led the most laps in a race six times. Two years ago, his first season with Furniture Row Racing, he led one lap.
“Our single-car team, based in Denver, has come a long way in a short period of time,” noted Truex. “I mean, that was a huge undertaking this past winter to switch manufacturers (to Toyota) and start over with all new chassis and components. And for our guys to jump on top of it like they did and be as prepared as they were speaks volumes about their abilities. It’s amazing how quickly it all came together.”