After a rough couple of weeks with finishes of 37th and 34th, Martin Truex Jr. is looking forward to returning to a 1.5-mile oval, a track length where he has had success this season.
His record at the mile-and-a-half tracks this season includes victories at Las Vegas and Kansas, a third at Charlotte and a pair of eighth-place results at Atlanta and Texas for a five-race average finish of 4.2.
Truex’s subpar finishes the past two weeks were not a result of performance. He was contending for the win in Sonoma, Calif. late in the race but an engine failure forced him to the garage. The following week at Daytona International Speedway he got collected in a multicar wreck.
But with the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway hosting Saturday night’s 267-lap Quaker State 400, Truex is feeling upbeat and ready to rebound in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota Camry.
“We’ve hit an unlucky streak the past two weeks and that’s going to happen in a 36-race schedule,” said Truex. “But we’re feeling good about Kentucky. We sure like the mile-and-a-half tracks and I felt we had a good chance of winning there last year. But a controversial call for a pit road violation knocked us out of contention.”
Since Kentucky Speedway started to host a NASCAR Cup Series race in 2011, Truex is one of five drivers to complete every lap (1,602) at the 1.5-mile oval located in Sparta.
“I have some good runs at Kentucky Speedway,” said Truex, who has claimed three top-10 finishes in six races. “Like any racetrack, you have to find the right balance for all four turns and Kentucky has some unique corners. But with our past history at the mile and a half tracks I am confident that Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and his engineering team will once again figure it out.”
Though Truex didn’t fare well in the past two races, he remains second in overall driver points, 18 markers behind Kyle Larson and 90 ahead of third place (Kyle Busch).
Truex leads the NASCAR Cup Series in laps led with 963, stage wins with 11 (next best is four), stage points (215) and playoff bonus points (21).
The Kentucky race is the halfway mark of the 36-race season schedule. There are nine races remaining before the 10-race playoff commences.
Truex’s record at Kentucky Speedway consists of six starts, three top-10s, 47 laps led, average start of 12.7 and average finish of 13.2.