Prior to the start of a new season, drivers are known to circle a few races that they feel are winnable with the utmost confidence.
Sunday’s 90-lap event at the 11-turn, 2.45-mile Watkins Glen International road course in central New York is one of those circled races for Martin Truex Jr.
“We were definitely primed to win last year’s race at The Glen,” recalled Truex, who was the No. 2 qualifier. “We had the speed, and just as important, fuel mileage was on our side. But during a traffice-jam restart (Lap 68 of 90), our car got clipped pretty good on the left-front, causing a tire rub and eventually a cut tire. That put us out of contention with not that many laps remaining.
“We had some close calls last year of winning more races, but the near miss in Watkins Glen is high on that list.
“If we can stay out of trouble in our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota and not have any crazy things happen to us I really feel we have a shot at winning this weekend,” stated Truex, a Mayetta, N.J. native.
“Though road racing is a big departure from the ovals, I really like the challenges at the road courses. My career actually started on road courses. You couldn’t race on ovals in New Jersey until you were 18 so I raced a lot of road courses in my go-kart and learned what it takes to do well on them.”
At the only other road course race this season – at Sonoma, Calif. in June – Truex started third and basically ran in the top five for the entire race. He ran as high as second before dropping back to finish fifth.
“We had a strong run in Sonoma and I feel we can be even stronger this weekend at the Glen,” noted Truex, who already has clinched a Chase playoff berth with five races remaining before the playoff format commences.
In 10 career Cup starts at Watkins Glen, Truex has notched three top fives, five top 10s and has a finishing average of 13.7. He has also completed every lap --902 of 902 – in the 10 career starts.
Truex enters the Cheez-it 355 at The Glen eighth in driver points and ninth in Chase playoff points. He is the Sprint Cup Series lap leader at 1,005. His previous season high for laps led was 581 in 2007. Two years ago, his first season with Furniture Row Racing, he led one lap during the 36-race schedule.