With Michigan International Speedway (MIS) being the next stop on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, Martin Truex Jr. has a similar feeling to what he had before last week’s race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
The week leading up to Watkins Glen, Truex, a Mayetta, N.J. native, felt he was overdue on a road course after dominating the Sonoma (Calif.) road race before a late-race mechanical issue forced him to the garage. The feeling was a positive forecast for Truex, who won the drama-filled, fuel mileage race at the Glen.
Entering Michigan, Truex said the June race at MIS slipped away and feels his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota will have the power to contend for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 victory on the 2-mile oval.
The June race winner at MIS – Kyle Larson – said that Truex’s car was the “class of the field” and Truex agreed 100 percent. But late-race restarts in the non-preferred inside lane dropped the Furniture Row Racing driver to a sixth-place finish.
“Without a shadow of a doubt we had the best car out there,” said Truex about the Michigan race in June. “But those inside lane restarts at the end did us in. I would be awfully surprised if we’re not contending for a win this weekend. The beauty of this team and working with Cole (crew chief, Cole Pearn) is that we enter every race knowing we have a shot at a victory. They keep on bringing fast cars to the track every week.”
With four races remaining in the regular season Truex leads the NASCAR Cup Series in key categories – driver points (116-point margin over second place), wins (4), playoff bonus points (34), stage wins (14) and laps led (1315). The regular season champion will receive an additional 15 playoff points.
Truex has garnered nine top fives and 15 top 10s in the first 22 races of the season. His 9 top fives is a personal season high.
“As a group, we’ve been together for four years now, and I think it’s just evolution of our group and what we’ve been doing,” explained Truex about the team’s success. “Last year was certainly a successful season but felt like we didn't show how good we really were. We didn't achieve the things that we thought we were capable of, and so this year I feel like we've done a better job. Obviously we've been more consistent with the points lead and the stage wins and all those things.
“I think it's just a credit to the team for being consistent and the pit crew being awesome and not having a lot of mistakes, So really it's just a work in progress all the time, and I feel like we're getting to where we want to be. But we've got to keep working hard. This sport is very tough. It changes week to week. You never know what the next week is going to bring or three weeks from now, and our ultimate goal this year is to win our first championship together.”
In 23 starts at Michigan, Truex has five top fives, eight top 10s and has led 150 laps.