When Martin Truex Jr. says he is less perplexed about the paper clip-shaped Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, he has real numbers to support his statement.
In his first 18 NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville’s half-mile oval the Furniture Row Racing driver had an average start of 18.1 and an average finish of 23.1. In his last four visits to the southern Virginia track Truex has had major improvement, earning a starting average of 5.5 and a finishing average of 9.3.
His finishes in the last four Martinsville races were: 6th, 6th, 18th and 7th and his starting positions were: 3rd, 2nd, 16th and 1st.
Truex, who will drive the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota primary paint scheme for the first time this season in Sunday’s STP 500, now looks forward to the Martinsville race with readiness instead of bafflement.
“From my standpoint Martinsville has gone from a puzzle to a place where I continue to feel more comfortable,” said Truex. “We’ve had some good runs there recently and this weekend will be a good test to see where we stand with our short track program. We know we can get it done at the intermediate and superspeedway tracks.”
There is no question about Truex “getting it done” at the intermediate and superspeedway tracks. His performances in the first five races of the season bear out that claim.
Truex stands third in the overall driver point standings. He has garnered finishes of 13th (Daytona), eighth (Atlanta), first (Las Vegas), 11th (Phoenix) and fourth (California) for a season average finish of 7.4.
He is tied for most stage wins at three and his eight playoff bonus points leads the NASCAR Cup Series. He also ranks second in laps led at 225.
“We’ve had a pretty good run so far,” said Truex. “However there’s still plenty of room for improvement. We might be a tick off here and there but overall not a bad start to the season.
“Our two-car operation is working out really well with strong runs recently by Erik (Jones) in the (No.) 77 Toyota. They’ve had consistent performances. Actually their finishes do not reflect how well they have run. I look for Erik and the 77 team to get stronger as the season progresses. It’s all good at Furniture Row Racing and I am happy that we’re off to a decent start. The guys back at the shop and the road crew have been hard at work getting our cars prepped each week.”
Truex’s career record at Martinsville includes: 22 starts, two top fives, seven top 10s and 198 laps led. His average starting position is 15.8 and average finish is 20.6.