Though he already clinched a Championship 4 berth, Martin Truex Jr. has more than 1200 reasons to go all out in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway, the final event in the Round of 8 playoffs.
Riding along with Truex in the 312-lap race will be 1200 Auto-Owners Insurance associates, plus family and friends, whose names will be on the hood of the No. 78 Toyota. The Auto-Owners associates took part in the Race with Martin campaign by donating money to the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation which supports a number of causes including childhood cancer and ovarian cancer. The employee contribution along with an Auto-Owners company match totaled $75,000.
“They (Auto-Owners) kept the Race with Martin campaign a secret from me,” said Truex. “And when I was presented the $75,000 check for our foundation, I was overwhelmed and lost for words. It just blew me away. The best way I could thank them was winning the Charlotte race that same day (Oct. 8) in the No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota. And the best way I can thank those 1200 associates riding with me on Sunday is to once again drive the blue car to Victory Lane.”
Truex, a seven-time winner this season, clinched the final four spot after finishing runner-up Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Thanks to a bankroll of playoff bonus points earned throughout the season, Truex advanced to the championship round on points. He needed to leave Texas with a 56-point margin ahead of the fourth place driver. He left with a 57-point lead over Brad Keselowski, who is positioned in fourth place heading to Phoenix.
Truex joins Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick as the three drivers who already clinched a final four berth for the Homestead-Miami Speedway race on Sunday Nov. 19.
“We’re going into Phoenix as if we need to win the race to make it to Homestead,” said Truex. “You can’t turn it off and on, you have to continue the way you have been doing things and keeping building momentum.
“The biggest challenge for Phoenix is to find grip and to have consistency where it is somewhat comfortable over the long runs. The hardest thing to figure out are the ends of the racetrack, which are completely different.”
So far Truex is having a consistent playoff run. Take away the 19-car pile-up he was involved in at Talladega, his average finish in the other seven playoff races is 2.28. He has scored three wins, two runners-up, a fourth and a fifth.