It was a classic win in a classic race and the adjectives flowed – dominating, annihilating, convincing, blistering, crushing, overpowering – to explain Martin Truex Jr.’s performance in last year’s Coca-Cola 600 victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
While the adjectives might have appeared at first glance to be an embellishment, they were indeed accurate descriptions of Truex’s record win.
He started from the pole in NASCAR’s longest race and went on to lead 392 of 400 laps for 588 miles at the 1.5-mile oval. The laps led was an event record and the miles led was a NASCAR record.
The Furniture Row Racing driver, who will pilot the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, feels last year’s win was a once-in-a-lifetime performance.
“I don't think anybody can do that again,” said Truex about his dominating victory. “Look how long it took. It's pretty amazing to think about what we did, really. All the years that NASCAR has been around and the great drivers and the stories, and to do that in this day and age was incredible. Going to be tough to top that one for sure."
Though Truex will always savor the Coca-Cola 600 win, one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races, his 100 percent focus is on the present.
“Things change rather quickly in this business and you can’t live in the past,” stated the 36-year-old Truex. “You know the old saying, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ ”
Actually “lately” hasn’t been that bad for Truex. He is coming off a victory at Kansas Speedway. He is tied in race wins (2 – Las Vegas, Kansas), is the sole leader in stage wins (5), playoff bonus points (15), laps led (536) and is second in overall driver points.
“It's been incredible, have to pinch myself every once in a while because things are going so well,” noted Truex. “I'm such a lucky person right now. It's such a great situation. I'm not taking that for granted, I'm enjoying every moment, having fun with the team. Just trying to keep the momentum going, keep working hard, see what is around the next corner.”
Based on last year’s victory coupled with wins this season at two of the four 1.5-mile tracks, Truex is frequently mentioned as one of the favorites for the Coca-Cola 600 win.
“I think with our success on the mile‑and‑a‑half's, we certainly should be one of the teams to beat,” said Truex. “I think we feel good about what we're doing and the Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota we're bringing.
“Charlotte typically changes quite a bit day to day let alone year to year. It's definitely still going to be a challenge. This place is tough. But so many things you have to do right to win these races. We're certainly putting the pressure on ourselves to make sure we get it all done. Hopefully we'll be able to put ourselves in that position. But there's no guarantees, that's for sure.”