With two races remaining before the start of the Chase playoffs, Martin Truex Jr.’s current focus is winning at a track that he has penciled in with high priority since 2006, the year he began his full-time campaign in NASCAR’s elite series.
The venue is the unnerving 1.366-mile Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, site of Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500. The tradition-rich Southern 500 returns to its Labor Day weekend date since the Sprint Cup schedule was altered in 2003.
“Darlington is one of my favorite racetracks without a doubt,” said Truex, who has already clinched a Chase berth. “The Southern 500 is a special race with an enormous amount of history. With all the tradition that Darlington carries, it’s definitely a place on my list that I really want to win at. I have come close to winning at Darlington and led a lot of laps there over the years. But I’ve also had some heartbreakers there.”
Truex’s No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet at Darlington will have a teal-appearing look to help raise awareness, advocacy and research for ovarian cancer.
The Mayetta, N.J. native enters Darlington sixth in Sprint Cup driver points. His season record to date is one win, seven top-fives and 16 top-10s. He has led 498 laps in the first 24 races.
“We’re pleased with our record so far but also feel that it should be better,” noted Truex. “We’ve had top-performing cars all year and should have had more wins at this point of the season. I guess that’s a good news, bad news scenario. If we can avoid some of that bad luck and stay error free, this single-car team out of Denver, Colorado has the potential of doing something special.”
But before the opening Chase race – Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway – it’s the old cliché for Truex, “One race at a time and we’ll go from there.”
He added, “Darlington is just an awesome racetrack -- it’s so much fun and definitely a challenge. It’s a place you can never let your guard down. Driving down in the corner and sliding the car right up against the wall, knowing that the closer you can get to the wall the faster you will go. It’s hard to not hit the wall and that’s why you’re on the edge the entire time at Darlington. You have to be aggressive there but at the same time be perfect because you’re about a half-of-an-inch away from the wall. It’s just a ton of fun to race at Darlington.”
In nine career Sprint Cup starts at Darlington, Truex has managed one top-five, three top-10s and has led 98 laps.