(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
Martin Truex Jr. will seek his fifth straight top-10 performance at Texas Motor Speedway in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
Though Truex has averaged a 6.5 finish in the past four NASCAR Cup Series races in Fort Worth, Texas, he feels his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team has missed out on a victory or two at the 1.5-mile super-fast oval.
Turn back the clock one year, it was Truex and his Toyota Camry that dominated the Texas race last April. He led a race-high 141 laps and at times enjoyed a staggering eight-second lead on the competition. But a late-race gamble to not pit for fresh tires didn’t work out. He lost the lead with 33 laps remaining and ended the 334 lapper with a sixth-place finish.
In the fall race at Texas, Truex once again contended for the win. He led 66 laps and came home with a third-place result.
Truex, who enters the Texas race third in driver points, feels his No. 78 Bass Pros Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota will be strong even on the repaved surface.
“The repaving of the track will throw some new wrinkles into the setup of the car, but it will be the same for everyone and we feel that our intermediate (track) program is as strong as any team out there,” said Truex. “We should have won at Texas in last year’s spring race, and we also had a contending car in the fall race.
“A lot of things can happen in a 334-lap race and you just have to race smart, take care of your equipment and have a little luck. I feel confident that our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota will have the power to run up front and stay there.”
Truex’s last four finishes at Texas were ninth and eighth in 2015 and sixth and third in 2016.
“The last four races at Texas have been pretty good,” noted Truex. “I like the track and feel comfortable running there. The repave could go either way for us, but I also feel comfortable with Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and his engineers to figure out whatever issues we may encounter.”
After six races of the current season Truex has one win, two top fives and three top 10s. He also leads with four stage wins and has collected nine playoff bonus points.
“The three intermediate tracks are where we’ve shined at so far this season,” said Truex. “Atlanta (8th), Las Vegas (1st) and California (4th) were all good for us and I don’t see any reason why it won’t continue this weekend in Texas.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!