Truex Jr. - midseason review & defending Kentucky title

Truex Jr. - midseason review & defending Kentucky title Getty Images for NASCAR

Comparing Martin Truex Jr.’s midpoint season record to last year after 18 races
(Note: 2017 numbers are in parenthesis)

Wins:  3 (3), Top Fives: 12 (6), Top 10s: 12 (12), Poles: 3 (0), Driver Points: 629 (709), Point Ranking: 3 (1), Avg, Start: 11.1 (7.9), Avg. Finish: 9.9 (11.4), Laps Led: 390 (1,115), Stage Wins: 3 (13), Stage Points: 128 (235), Playoff Points: 18 (28), DNF: 3 (3)

“I feel good about where we’re at,” Truex said. “Having a shot to win at Daytona last week was cool. We went in there with the mindset of ‘We’ve got to figure out how to finish this race’ and we almost won so that was cool. We’ve got some good tracks coming up and, hopefully, we can take advantage of that and have a good summer stretch. Keeping the momentum going is the most important thing.”

Asked about where he would like to see improvement Truex stated, “You can always do better everywhere, obviously, but I think for us just focusing on getting more playoff and stage points, that is the key right now.”

Truex Jr. Brings Hot Streak to Defend Kentucky Title

How strong has Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing been in the last eight NASCAR Cup Series races?

For starters the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion won twice, finished runner-up three times and scored seven top-five results. His only non-top five was 18th at the rain-shortened Michigan race.

His average finish during the eight-race stretch was 4.25. The hot streak started after suffering through three DNFs at Texas (finished 37), Bristol (30) and Talladega (26). Also included in this four-race period was a 14th-place finish at Richmond due to a late-race pit-road miscue after being in contention for the win.

Truex has every reason to feel that he will continue his sizzling pace when he will defend his title at Kentucky Speedway in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400. He will drive the blue No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry in the 267-lap race.

Truex, who also had a shot of winning the Kentucky Speedway race in 2016 had it not been for a controversial pit-road penalty, has notched four top 10s in seven starts at the 1.5-mile track.

“Kentucky is really tough - everybody talks about how difficult Turn 3 is,” Truex explained. Turns 1 and 2 have a lot of banking so you carry a lot of speed down the backstretch. And then Turn 3 is just really flat, not a lot of banking, and the car tends to be really loose so I think everybody struggles there to make their cars work right. It’s really not about being good. It’s about being better than everybody else. The last two years we went with a setup I could manage and our cars obviously had good speed. It definitely wasn’t easy. We’re going to do all we can to try to keep winning races and get some more stage wins along the way.”

After securing a runner-up finish last Saturday at Daytona International Speedway the Furniture Row Racing driver moved into third place in the point standings and is also third in the playoff standings.

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Steven B. Wilson

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