2014 was rough for Martin Truex, Jr. On and off the track, Truex and long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex experienced plenty of trials and tribulations. However, the struggles of Pollex’s diagnosis of Stage III ovarian cancer have shown their true faith and persevere.
Following her surgery on Aug. 15, Truex had to miss part of the weekend at Michigan. With plenty of support from their NASCAR family, the two have continued to spearhead the Martin Truex, Jr. Foundation, which assists children with pediatric cancer. But with the struggles, Truex and his Furniture Row Racing team have grown closer together.
In his first year with the Denver, Co.-based organization, he earned a best finish of fourth at Kansas in October, and tallied up five top fives. The results, however, didn’t show Truex’s speed, especially late in the year. Leading just one lap on the season, he failed to carry over the success that he had in 2013 with Michael Waltrip Racing. But he was lacking chemistry with crew chief Todd Berrier, who hasn’t been in Victory Lane since 2007.
Finishing 24th in points in 2014 – the lowest mark in Truex’s nine full-time seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – he had an average finish of 20.2. Entering the season he expected to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup after his impressive 2013 season, and former FRR driver Kurt Busch made it into NASCAR’s version of the playoffs for the first time in the team’s history that year.
After Pollex’s diagnosis, Truex began performing much better. With six top-15 finishes in the final 13 races, compared to eight in the first 23 events, the New Jersey-native showed the team’s potential for the 2015 season.
For the new season, he will begin working with former lead race engineer for the team, Cole Pearn. It is expected that Truex will return to his 2013 form in the new season. The new rules package should go into his favor, which is slightly similar to the setup that he ran during his rookie year in 2007.
Expect Truex and Pearn to have some struggles at the start of the year. The continuing alliance with Richard Childress Racing should play into this one-car team’s favor, but this is a contract year for Truex. He will likely receive an offer to return to the team if he makes the Chase for the Sprint Cup, or at least comes close to making it, which could help build them into a top-tier organization. Having a consistent driver for just the second time in the team’s history is going to be a pivotal factor in their success, especially at the short tracks, which could be a place where they enter the winner’s circle.