After automatically advancing to the Round of 12 as a result of winning the playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway, Martin Truex Jr.’s mindset for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway remains the same.
“Our approach doesn't change from what it was in the regular season,” said Truex, who has a career high of five season wins. “We go into every single week to try and win both stages and then try to win the race. We want to get as many of those points as we can in case we have something happen like last year at Talladega (engine failure).”
New Hampshire’s ISM Connect 300 is the second of three races in the Round of 16. The final race of the first playoff round will be in Dover, Del. on Oct. 1.
From a personal standpoint New Hampshire is a race that Truex has been longing to win in the NASCAR Cup Series. Both he and his father – Martin Truex Sr. – have scored a win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the 1-mile track located in Loudon, and his younger brother Ryan has multiple New Hampshire wins in the K&N Pro Series East.
“New Hampshire carries a special significance for the Truex family and the one void is a Cup win and that’s what we’ll be shooting for on Sunday,” said Truex Jr., who has been the NASCAR Cup Series points leader for 10 consecutive weeks.
It’s not that Truex hasn’t been close to winning at the track known as the Magic Mile. He led the most laps in his last two appearances at New Hampshire – 137 in July (finished third) and 141 a year ago (finished seventh). And in the July 2016 race, a broken shifter doomed his chance of victory.
“We know our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota Camry can run up front at New Hampshire, but we need to close the deal,” stated Truex. “It’s a tough track and the first thing you want is a good starting spot.”
Truex, who has a safety net of 58 playoff bonus points, is not looking beyond Sunday’s race.
“There are eight more playoff races before Homestead and plenty can happen between now and then,” explained Truex. “We don’t take anything for granted, we just need to be at the top of our game in every race. No different than the regular season.”
Looking at the statistics after the first 27 races, it’s safe to say that Truex and the Furniture Row Racing team have been consistently at the top of their game. Truex leads in race wins (5), stage wins (18), driver points (2102), playoff bonus points (58), stage points (359), top 10s (18), laps led (1723), miles led (2338), average start (6.8) and driver rating (115.8).
“I feel like right now we just have everything,” noted Truex. ‘We have the right people. We have the right support. We have the right guys behind us. We have the right information coming in. We really just have it all going on for us right now, and things are clicking.”
Truex’s New Hampshire career record includes 23 starts, four top fives, nine top 10s, one pole, 549 laps led, 11.7 starting average and a 13.3 finishing average.