For more than half the season, Martin Truex Jr. has been the driver everyone else chased.
That’s how often the Furniture Row Racing driver has been atop the series standings, beginning after his third-place finish in the Coke 600 in May.
The 37-year-old driver has put together the best season of his full-time Cup career, which began in 2006. He has scored seven wins, six of them at 1.5-mile tracks. Those wins bring his career total to 14.
Three years ago when he and crew chief Cole Pearn joined the Denver-based FRR, Truex had two wins in eight seasons.
A year after Truex finished 24th in the standings with one top five and five tops 10 in 2014, Truex went to his first Championship 4 and finished fourth. He gets his second shot at a title this weekend.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.
Crew chief: Cole Pearn
2017 wins: 7, (Las Vegas, Kansas I & II, Charlotte II, Watkins Glen, Chicagoland, Kentucky)
2017 top 10s: 25
Laps Led: 2,175 (first in series)
Championship 4 history: Made it in 2015, finished fourth.
Memorable race: Truex survived two restarts in the final 10 laps at Charlotte in October to advance to the Round of 8.
Playoff march: Won the opener at Chicagoland to advance for the second year in a row; Won at Charlotte in Round of 12 to advance; Clinched spot in championship race based on points after Texas race in Round of 8..
Why Truex will win the title: Been the dominant car on 1.5-mile tracks all season and he has finished outside the top five in the playoffs just once (Talladega).
Why Truex won’t win the title: Something unexpected, like a broken part or miscues on pit road, are Truex’s biggest concern.
What Nate Ryan says: “If you look at almost every mile-and-a-half victory they’ve had this year, they’ve overcome some adversity. … They rebound constantly, whether they go a lap down or whatever, they always find a way to use that speed, that just pure, raw, blinding speed that the No. 78 has had all year. That can be a great absolver of any sins the team commits in terms of execution. I think that’s their savior.”