Martin Truex Jr. knows all too well about the Talladega Superspeedway saying, “Expect the Unexpected.”
His status record in the last four visits to the 2.66-mile tri-oval is marked in red, an ominous motorsports color that indicates a DNF (did not finish).
The four-race gloomy stretch for Truex at NASCAR’s longest track started two years ago when his car suffered an engine failure. The next three Talladega races he got collected in multicar wrecks.
Truex, who will drive Furniture Row Racing’s No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota in Sunday’s race at the white-knuckle Alabama track, is aiming to reverse his fortune.
With Talladega and Kansas remaining in the Round of 12, Truex ranks third in the point standings and has a 36-point cushion for the transfer spot to the next playoff round.
“It’s such a wacky, wild-card race,” Truex said about Talladega. “We tried all different strategies and it seems like it doesn’t make a difference. What you need is a lot of luck there. If you can avoid the wrecks and have a car that can maintain its position with the lead pack you have a chance of posting a solid finish. But usually, it comes down to being in the right place at the right time. We’ve been in the wrong place too many times recently and need to change that.”
It’s not that Truex doesn’t know how to win at Talladega. He won three straight races there while driving in the Xfinity Series. Another good sign for the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion is that he came close to winning before settling for a runner-up finish at the most recent restrictor-plate race – Daytona in July.
Truex has had strong performances in the first four playoff races, claiming third-place finishes in Las Vegas and Richmond.
But his strong effort in the past two races was stymied when he got taken out near the checkered flag while leading the Charlotte Motor Speedway road race. He was credited with a 14th- place result. Sunday at Dover he was in position for a top-five result but got caught up in a multicar mayhem with four laps remaining. He ended with a 15th-pace finish.
“Last two weeks were indeed frustrating but you can’t look back – you need to move on,” Truex stated. “Just too many variables to deal with. You keep plugging away and give it your best shot and hopefully, something good will happen. So many times it’s out of your control.”
Truex’s record at Talladega includes 27 starts, two top-fives, eight top 10s, one pole and 52 laps led. His average starting position is 19.1 and average finish is 21.3.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!