The good points for Truex as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this weekend include one victory, eight top fives, eight top 10s and three poles. He has scored runner-up finishes in the last two races – at Kansas and Charlotte – and sits fifth in the driver point standings.
Another season highlight for Truex was his margin of victory of 11.685 seconds at California Speedway. It was by far the largest lead at the checkered flag. The next closest winning margin was 7.45 seconds by Kevin Harvick at Dover.
But along with the good came a bad stretch of four consecutive races for the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion.
While running second in Texas, Truex’s race ended early due to heavy contact with the wall after a flat tire on Lap 80 (finished 37th). At Bristol, he was collected in a Lap 3 accident and continued to race with a damaged car (finished 30th).
At Richmond, he led a race-high of 121 laps and was running a close second with 10 to go. But following a caution, a pit stop miscue dropped him out of contention and he finished 14th. Truex was collected in a Lap 71 accident at Talladega, finishing 26th with a crippled car.
Truex picked up only 54 driver points in that four-race stretch for a 13.5 point per race average. In the other nine races he earned 376 points for a 41.8 average.
Though he finished second at Kansas, he lost the lead with a little over one lap remaining in the race.
“Yeah, I feel okay with where we’re at, obviously,” said Truex, who will drive the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota in Pocono. “We had a tough few weeks, like four straight bad races, which was tough, so it was hard to see exactly where we stacked up, and now we’ve had three top fives in a row.
“But we haven’t had that winning speed, so we’re still off a little bit. I feel like we’re in decent shape but still learning a little about the rules this year — the new splitter deal. We’re not too far off, we just need to keep digging.”
The Mayetta, N.J., native will officially accept at Pocono Raceway the 2017 Eastern Motorsport Press Association Driver of the Year Award for the second straight season and third overall.
Truex knows very well the difficulties of the 2.5-mile triangular track. He did conquer the massive track in 2015 when he scored his first of 14 victories with the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing team. He has 16 career wins overall.
“We have had some success at Pocono but on the other hand we’ve had some strange things happen to us there,” Truex noted. “It’s a unique track with the long straightaway and three totally different turns. You need to hit all the turns to be competitive.
“I look forward to Pocono. It’s one of my home tracks and the area has some pretty good fishing holes too.”
Truex had finishes of sixth and third last year at Pocono and qualified second for both races. His overall record at Pocono is 24 starts, one win, four top fives, nine top fives, 166 laps led and three poles. His average start is 15.6 and average finish is 15.5.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDENCK!