Excuse Martin Truex Jr. if he doesn’t follow the NASCAR driver’s party line of putting the previous race in the rear-view mirror. It might take a little more time than usual for Truex to table his history-making runner-up finish in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
The Furniture Row Racing driver fell inches short of winning NASCAR’s biggest race. He was edged at the finish line by Denny Hamlin by a mere 0.010 seconds, the closest finish in the 58-year history of the Daytona 500.
“We came to Daytona to win, but came up a few inches short,” said Truex. “But there were many positives to be taken away from our performance. We proved what an outstanding crew we have. The guys repeatedly overcame adversity during Daytona Speedweeks and gave me a backup car that nearly won the race.
“It was our first race with Toyota and our technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. That all went great, and I truly feel that we’re cementing a successful technical alliance with JGR. It was also a great feeling to have success with our new sponsor Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats. The company’s founder Johnny Morris has played a big role in my career. Yes, I might be thinking of that finish a little longer than usual, but most of my energy will be on this weekend’s race in Atlanta. Daytona is one of 36 races, we can’t forget that.”
But before Truex arrives in Atlanta for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Sprint Cup Series race, he will have a couple of sponsorship photo shoots for Bass Pro Shops and Auto-Owners Insurance, which announced in Daytona that it will be a primary on Truex’s No. 78 Toyota for three races later in the year.
“It feels good to be back in the rhythm and I am excited about the sponsorship interest in our team,” said Truex. “But the bottom line is that we have to maintain our focus and continue the early success as we did last year.
"Obviously we're looking forward to bringing our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota to Atlanta. I think it's going to be an incredible race with lower downforce on the race cars. I think the cars are going to be a real handful and it’s going to be exciting. I'm looking forward to just kicking off that part of the season, getting to work, seeing how our cars are, where we stack up. The anticipation is high. Going to Atlanta with a little bit of momentum is always a good feeling.”
Truex’s sixth-place finish in Atlanta last season was one of the 14 top-10 finishes he posted in the first 15 races.
His overall record at Atlanta is 17 starts, two top-fives, five top-10s and 247 laps led.