Martin Truex Jr. has faced the pressure of the final regular season race.
The team he drives for -- Furniture Row Racing -- has also been in the same position.
But this time around at Richmond International Raceway Truex and the single-car Furniture Row Racing team won’t have those one-last-chance prerace jitters of attempting to qualify for NASCAR’s 10-race post-season Chase playoffs.
Truex basically punched his Chase ticket after winning the June Pocono race. He mathematically clinched a berth following the Aug. 9th race in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
"It's a nice feeling going to Richmond knowing the race is the final tune-up before the Chase and not the final race to make the Chase,” said Truex. “Though we don't have the pressure of making the Chase, we're still going to approach Richmond with the same energy to win as we did in the first 25 races of the season. Taking another three points into the Chase is what we’ll be after in Richmond.”
Following Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at the .75-mile Richmond oval, the 16-driver Chase field will be reset with each driver starting off with 2000 points plus three additional points for each win during the 26-race regular season.
Truex, driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, currently sits sixth in Sprint Cup driver points, but is ranked 10th on the Chase grid.
Truex, who set a Furniture Row Racing season record of 17 top-10 finishes following a ninth-place result in Sunday night’s race at Darlington, will be making his third Chase appearance.
For Furniture Row Racing it will be its second Chase appearance in the past three years. The Denver-based team made history in 2013 when it became the first single-car team in NASCAR’s history to qualify for the Chase.
The opening Chase race is scheduled for Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Getting back to Richmond, the universally-liked short track continues to have a reputation of being an entertaining and challenging venue.
“Even though we all like competing at Richmond, it is always a tough place to do well at," explained Truex, who has claimed three top 10s in the last four Richmond races. “It’s a unique short track and also one of the hardest to make your car do what you want it to do. The car is usually tight in the middle of the corner and loose off. We had a top-10 finish (10th) at the first race in Richmond this year and feel we can improve upon that result.”
In 19 career Sprint Cup starts at Richmond International Raceway, Truex has one top-five and five top 10s. His average Richmond start is 16.0 and average finish is 21.4.