No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. enters Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway already locked into the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup.
But there’s plenty of motivation for the Michael Waltrip Racing driver on the three-quarter mile Virginia track.
Truex saw an untimely caution turn a three-second lead with five laps remaining into a fourth-place finish at Atlanta last weekend. The desire to revenge Atlanta combined with the bonus points awarded in the Chase for regular season victories means the Michael Waltrip Racing team will have a little extra incentive to bring home the checkered flag.
With 11 races left, Truex has already tied his single-season record for top-10 finishes with 14 and is one top-five finish away from tying his single-season record (seven) for top fives. Both records were set in 2007, the only other year he qualified for the Chase. Truex is also on pace to break his personal single-season record of most laps led in a season (581), also established in 2007. He has led 416 laps in 2012.
ATLANTA: “I was upset after the race, but as soon as I got on the plane, I started thinking about the things we could learn from it and then my focus changed to Richmond. We had a great run in Atlanta and should have won. I would love to have done it on the weekend we announced extensions with NAPA and MWR. But, it’s kind of cool to be disappointed with fourth place. That’s how far we’ve come. We’ll try it again at Richmond. We’ll get one here soon.”
ON THE CHASE: “When I made the Chase in 2007, I thought it was going to be a regular occurrence. Boy, I was wrong. I appreciate this one so much more. Making it with MWR is something I am very proud of. It’s the first time MWR has ever had a car in the Chase and we have me and Clint (Bowyer) in. But I think it is very important for people to know that we just don’t want to be in it, we want to take advantage of it. I feel like we are in a good position to do that. We are in the perfect position, actually. No one expects us to do anything so it’s a win-win situation. I talk to the media a lot. I read what they write and what they are talking about. It doesn’t bother me one bit where we stand. I see this team as a cobra, ready to strike.”
On RACING RICHMOND: “I’ll be honest. Richmond has been a mixed bag for me. Last year in the spring, we were the dominant car, but pit road issues cost us the win. This spring, we were somewhat off, but got back on track by working with our teammates. I expect us to be a favorite to win because we’ve made some gains recently that should help us at Richmond. I think we’ve also learned some things at the 2013 test at Martinsville last month that we can apply. I’m ready to get back on track and see if we can finally win one of these things.”