For Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series race is equivalent to the bottom of the ninth in baseball, the 18th hole in golf and sudden death in hockey.
Yes, in order for Truex to make NASCAR’s Chase in his No. 78 Chevrolet he will need to win the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, the final stop before the start of the 10-race playoff. There is no other scenario for the New Jersey native, who has qualified for a Chase berth twice -- in 2007 and 2012.
“Our first objective going into Richmond is to run strong,” said Truex. “Before you can contend for a win you have to have a good handling car that can master the four corners.”
But according to Truex what you learn in Friday’s two practice sessions might not apply to Saturday’s nighttime conditions.
“Richmond is a difficult weekend because we practice in the daylight and race at night,” stated Truex. “You never have a good feeling in practice about what your car is going to do in the race. Even if you’re fast in practice there is no guarantee that it will be the same during the race. It gets so hot there during the day and the track is super slick. The race conditions at night are obviously different and you must be ready to make the necessary adjustments.
“Racing at Richmond is really a crap shoot to be honest but it’s also fun to race there. We had one of our better finishes of the season there during the spring race.”
Truex notched his first top-10 of the season at the Richmond spring race, finishing 10th in the 400-lap competition. He also had a top-10 last year at the .75-mile oval with a seventh-place result.
“If you’re one of the teams contending for a win Saturday night, it’s going to be exciting,” noted Truex. “No telling what could happen, the fans will be loving every second of the closing laps. I just hope our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet is in the mix.”