Martin Truex Jr. Hopes Charlotte Top-Five Will Carry Momentum Through Contender Roundby Hunter Thomas October 13, 2015 0 comments
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas
CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr. finished a solid third in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon, earning his eighth top-five of the season, a career best for the driver of the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet.
On Sunday, Truex Jr. started 15th, but by the 100-lap mark, he had already made his way into the top-five. Furniture Row Racing, the single car team based out of Denver, Colorado is now sitting third in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, 12 points ahead of Ryan Newman, who holds the first position just below the transfer cutoff to the Eliminator Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“I’ll be honest with you, Talladega is still there,” Truex Jr. said. “Third is great and all, but it’s no guarantee. I felt like this round would be good for us. Charlotte and Kansas, we ran so good here in the first race (Coca-Cola 600) this year, and then after practice I was like, oh, my God, we’re struggling. This was honestly the worst weekend we’ve had all season long as far as how I felt about the race car.
“So I was like, okay, kind of damage control. Let’s just hopefully get a top-10 out of this thing, and to do ‑‑ to get third out of it was a huge step for us.”
With the Hollywood Casino 400 coming up this weekend at Kansas Speedway, all Truex Jr. is thinking about is a win, because the unpredictable Chase race at Talladega Superspeedway looms in the distance. Martin Truex Jr.’s average finish at Kansas Speedway is 17.5, but this race last year, he finished fourth. Earlier in May, he captured a ninth place finish at the speedway. Truex Jr.’s best career finish at Kansas Speedway is a pair of seconds that were earned during the 2012 events. Another top-five at Kansas Speedway would be quite a statement for the team before entering Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, October 25.
“Honestly, I think going to Kansas, a win is huge,” Truex Jr. said. “It would be so huge. It’s so critical to try to get that win out of the way. (Joey) Logano is the only one that’s going to sleep for the next two weeks. You know what I mean? Kansas has been one of my best racetracks, and certainly one of my best since I went to Furniture Row. Honestly, we’re going there as hard as we can go with everything we have to try to win just because we know Talladega is that wild card.”
If the small, Colorado-based team can get through the Contender Round of the Chase, all they have to do is continue their strong performance in the Eliminator Round, and they’ll be entering Homestead-Miami Speedway as one of the final four teams competing for the championship. Obviously running inside the top-five or even the top-10 isn’t a simple task, but the team has nothing to lose. In 2016, they’ll be switching from Chevrolet to Toyota and entering a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing. The team has also already announced that Truex Jr. will return next season. At this point in the season, it’s “go big, or go home”.
On top of Martin Truex Jr.’s eight top-five finishes this season, he and the team have amassed 19 top-10 finishes and one win. This year’s performance marks Martin Truex Jr.’s third appearance in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the second for Furniture Row Racing. With the latest Chase format revolving around wins, a team’s success is all about consistency, execution and momentum.
The Hollywood Casino 400 may come down to fuel mileage or there may be an all-out battle in the closing laps. Either way, Truex Jr., along with crew chief, Cole Pearn and the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet team must execute their tasks perfectly to move on to the next round. Fortunately for them, they’re already ahead of the game with a top-three finish; however, Jimmie Johnson entered the Monster Mile two weekends ago fifth in the point standings, and later that afternoon, he fell outside of the cutoff mark and didn’t transfer, so anything can happen.
The Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway will broadcast live on NBC and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2:15 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon.