Martin Truex Jr., who didn’t have much success for various reasons at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last year with finishes of 29th and 28th, could have a good luck charm in the house for Sunday’s running of the Food City 500 at the high-banked, half-mile oval.
Scheduled to be in attendance at the colossal stadium-like facility as the honorary race official is retired Denver Broncos and Super Bowl winning quarterback Peyton Manning, who starred in college at the University of Tennessee.
Truex, like Manning, also shares a Denver affiliation. His team -- Furniture Row Racing -- is based in the Mile High City. Both athletes captured the hearts of Denver fans last season with Truex qualifying for the Championship 4 while Manning was leading the Broncos to its third Super Bowl victory.
Truex was named Colorado’s 2015 Professional Athlete of the Year by Mile High Sports Magazine, an award that Manning previously won.
“When you’re at Bristol, you’re always looking for an edge,” said Truex. “It’s one of the toughest venues we race at. It sure would be nice to have Peyton bring some of that Broncos' DNA to our Denver-based race team.”
Truex is coming off a strong performance in Fort Worth, Texas where he led the most laps (141) Saturday night before dropping to sixth at the checkered flag. After seven races he has led 198 laps compared to 32 at the same time last year.
“Though Texas and Bristol are two completely different racetracks, we’re feeling good about our progression this season as newcomers to Toyota and a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Truex. “We feel we can be competitive at any track. You know that you’ve come a long way when you leave the track disappointed finishing sixth as we did in Texas. We had the car to beat, but the best car doesn’t always win.”
Bristol was the sight of Truex’s first NASCAR victory (March 2004 Xfinity Series) and his best finish in the Sprint Cup Series was second in August 2011.
“It’s all about having a great race car at Bristol,” noted Truex. “That place is really fast. If it looks fast to the fans, it’s like three-times faster in the car. If your car has the right setup for Bristol there’s no track more fun to drive on. But if your car is off, it is probably the most miserable place to drive. I feel confident that our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota will be competitive.”