Following last Sunday’s race in Dover, Martin Truex Jr. said, “I am looking forward to the next round of the playoffs and feel good about where this Furniture Row Racing team is at right now.”
Truex, who will drive the blue No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota in Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, has facts to back up his optimistic feeling.
For starters he enters the Round of 12 playoffs as the points leader, an 18-point margin over second place Kyle Busch.
Truex is also coming off the Round of 16 with the best three-race finishing average of 3.3. His consistent finishes in the first round were: first at Chicagoland Speedway, fifth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and fourth at Dover International Speedway.
And high on the optimistic list is two of the three races in the second playoff round will be at 1.5-mile tracks where Truex has been at his strongest. Four of his five wins this season have come at the mile-and-a-half tracks – Las Vegas, Kansas, Kentucky and Chicagoland.
With his recent success at Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval Truex couldn’t ask for a better venue to kick off the playoff round. In his last five races at Charlotte, Truex has a victory, four top fives, and has led a total of 756 laps. Of the 756 laps led, 392 came during his dominant victory in the May 2016 Coca-Cola 600. In this year’s Coke 600, he finished third and led 233 laps.
Kansas, the third race of the second round, is another 1.5-miler where Truex has had success, winning there in May with a strong performance.
“I am definitely looking forward to Charlotte and Kansas,” said Truex, who has set career season highs for wins (5), top fives (13) and laps led (1886). “A win would be great at either one of those tracks, but we just need to be consistent, be among the leaders fighting for the win and picking up those valuable stage points as well as playoff points.
“And then there’s Talladega (second race in the Round of 12). Anything can happen there. It’s a wildcard race. We have not had much success there lately, but if we can avoid the wrecks and mechanical issues we should be ok. It’s a crazy race that can either make or break you from entering the next round of the playoffs.”
Truex’s Cup record at Charlotte Motor Speedway includes 24 starts, one victory, four top fives and eight top 10s. His four top fives have come in the last five races. His average start at Charlotte is 17.0 and average finish is 15.7.