Michigan Weekend Preview
June 11, 2015
NASCAR Wire Service
Martin Truex Jr. has been the surprise of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Not expected to even make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at the beginning of the year, Truex has proven to be a legitimate championship contender. The driver of the No. 78 Chevrolet for single-car Furniture Row Racing out of Denver, Colorado has led the most laps in each of the past four races and finally captured his first win of the season at Pocono Raceway last weekend, speeding away from reigning NSCS champion Kevin Harvick and wins leader Jimmie Johnson on his path to Victory Lane.
“The win was kind of an exclamation point on the start of our season,” Truex said. “But we’ve had a lot to be happy about, a lot to be excited about and honestly just looking forward to the rest of the season and seeing what we can do now that the pressure is off and we can go to work on getting ready for the last 10 (the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup).”
Truex carries the momentum from his Pocono triumph into Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway (1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1).
The New Jersey native has never won at Michigan, but he does have three top 10s at the two-mile track, including two second-place showings in 2007 and a third-place finish in 2013.
“There are still mountains to climb and things to conquer,” said Truex after Pocono. “We haven’t won a championship. This is one race. We’ve got a lot of work to do yet.”
As Truex acknowledged, there is plenty of season left – 12 regular season races and the 10-race Chase. Still, he has produced a banner year so far by anyone’s standards. Truex ranks second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, 39 points behind Kevin Harvick. His 13 top-10 finishes tie Harvick’s total for the series’ most. To put Truex’s number of top 10s into perspective, in NSCS history only Lee Petty (1954, 1959), Richard Petty (1969), Truex and Harvick have collected 13 top 10s through the first 14 races.
“Honestly it’s the most fun I’ve had in racing in a long, long time,” Truex said. ”And (I’m) just so thankful for the opportunity to drive for (owner) Barney (Visser) and everybody there (at Furniture Row Racing).”
Truex has performed even while facing adversity off-the-track as his long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex recovers from ovarian cancer. He has praised Pollex’s strength and asserts their off-the-track struggles have made him a better person.
Truex believes his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team can win the series championship.
“Right now (we’re) as good as anyone out there,” he said. “Look what we’ve done the last four weeks. We’ve went head-to-head with the big guys, the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the 4 (Harvick), who have been the guys to beat for a year and a half. The 48 has been the guy to beat for seven, eight years. We’ve been right there with them, toe-to-toe.
“I think we’re still growing. We’re still getting better. I’m just excited to be a part of it, to see what we can do.”