Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr. celebrates calling his shot in the Super Bowl

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Martin Truex Jr. is on a championship roll.

Two months after winning the 2017 NASCAR Cup championship, the Furniture Row Racing driver celebrated Sunday night after his Philadelphia Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.

Truex already had been slated to attend his first Super Bowl as the reigning NASCAR champion, and the Minneapolis junket became an opportunity to cheer on his favorite team.

Raised about 60 miles from Philadelphia in Mayetta, N.J., Truex, 37, grew up as a long-suffering Eagles fan (which he discussed on a recent episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast).

During an NBC Sports interview in May, he predicted Philadelphia would beat New England in the Super Bowl — four months before the NFL season began.

Attending his first Super Bowl as the reigning Cup champion, Truex stuck with the prediction during a pregame feature with Rutledge Wood, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Blaney.

While taking a social media victory lap, Truex couldn’t resist rubbing it in with New England natives Joey Logano and Steve Letarte (who also attended the game).

Time for Martin Truex Jr. ‘to be more of a jerk’ to win at Talladega

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Martin Truex Jr. is the only playoff driver with nothing to worry about Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, and you might see him racing that way on the 2.66-mile oval.

The Furniture Row Racing driver, who is 0 for 50 at the restrictor-plate tracks of Daytona International Speedway and Talladega, told NBC Sports after his win Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that it’s time to shed his nice-guy image at the tracks where depending on the whims of drafting partners can be the key to success.

“I’ve got to be more of a jerk on the racetrack if I’m going to win a plate race,” Truex said with a laugh. “I give too much room. I’m too cautious. I don’t make those dumb moves that cause big wrecks like some guys do.

“And you see the guys who win there a lot are just erratic as hell, and they’re all over the place, and you never know where they’re going to go. That’s why they’re good there, but that’s also why they cause the big wrecks. So I’m kind of in the middle. I race like I normally do — pretty cautious. I don’t want to mess anybody up. So I guess I got to race like a jerk this time around since I’ve got nothing to lose. See if we can win it.”

Truex doesn’t need to win it because his Bank of America 500 victory advances him to the Round of 8 regardless of his results at Talladega and Kansas Speedway. He still has incentive to keep rivals from gaining playoff points to start the next round (while also building on his series-leading 64 playoff points).

But mainly he and his No. 78 Toyota team will enjoy a stress-free 500 miles while the other 11 drivers wrestle with the nail-biting capriciousness that Truex is all too familiar with in his career.

Truex has only two top fives in 25 starts at Talladega and one in 25 starts at Daytona – a runner-up finish to Denny Hamlin in the 2016 Daytona 500. The tracks are his two worst in average finish on the circuit (21.0 at Talladega, 22.6 at Daytona).

“We suck,” crew chief Cole Pearn said of his team’s record in plate races. “I know we’ve had a couple ones we’ve got close, but man, average finish-wise we’re pretty terrible.  For us not to have to worry about that, and it’s just the randomness of what can happen.  But we always feel like we’re in the randomness.”

Things might seem a little less random Sunday as Truex will have a Furniture Row Racing teammate (Erik Jones) and the four-car fleet of Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas, which won’t be sandbagging this season after employing that strategy last year.

Hamlin also believes that Truex might benefit from getting “meaner” in Sunday’s race.

“It’s fair to say,” Hamlin said Tuesday when told of Truex’s postrace comment. “When people think of Jamie McMurray at superspeedways, he has a lot of success there. He also wrecks a ton there, and it’s because of the moves he makes sometimes. Most times, they don’t pay off, but when it does, he has great results.

“I think it’s a risk/reward thing. I found success the other way, letting those guys make abrupt moves and me follow through. I think it’s to each his own and the styles with which they race, but I’d somewhat agree that Martin errs on the side of helping teammates vs. being selfish, but he hasn’t really had all the teammates that he’s had over the last couple of years. So he’s got more teammates out there than what he probably has had in the past.”

NASCAR America: Testing of tires during races ‘fairly common practice’ for NASCAR

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Eyebrows were raised during Sunday’s Cup Series playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway when NASCAR officials disappeared into a blue tent to test tires belonging to the teams of Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., dunking them in water.

But Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said it is a “fairly common practice” Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

“It’s been going on for a few years,” O’Donnell said. “It’s something we’ve done just to make sure for the competitors, everybody’s on a level playing field. It helps us with Goodyear as well to make sure the tires are legit, which we’ve always found they are.”

It’s an issue the crew chiefs for Busch and Truex are OK with.

“Usually when you’re running good, they’re going to come take them,” Cole Pearn said Sunday. “That’s fine. They’re just doing their due diligence, doing what they should be doing. No issue there.”

NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman weighed in on the story and why fans need to know about NASCAR’s practices concerning tires.

“This is something fans haven’t known about,” Petty said. “This is something maybe the guys inside that square, fenced-in area called the garage area all know about and just take for granted. But the fan … they want to know. ‘Why are you guys doing this? What’s this all about?'”

Said Kligerman: “It’s good that they’re doing this because they’re checking on the fact that teams could be trying to cheat the rules a little bit by making the airs leak out of the tires, therefore having a car on the long run that would be really fast because it would keep the right air pressure.”

Watch the above video for more.

Martin Truex Jr. nips Kyle Larson to win first stage at Darlington

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DARLINGTON, S.C. – Martin Truex Jr. snatched the lead from Kyle Larson on the final lap to win the first stage of Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Larson had taken the lead from Truex, the race’s defending winner, on Lap 22 and led 78 consecutive laps before falling to second on the 100th and last lap of the opening segment.

It’s the series-leading 16th stage victory of the season for Truex, who has 36 playoff points and likely will gain another 15 by clinching the regular-season title in Sunday’s race.

Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five, followed by Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon.

The playoffs continued to take shape as Clint Bowyer, the only driver with a realistic shot of breaking into the field of 16 on points, suffered an engine problem during his first pit stop. Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford will finish last, and its misfortune makes it more likely that Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray will make the playoffs on points, barring a victory by a winless driver.

After Darlington, the Sept. 9 race at Richmond International Raceway will conclude the regular season.

Trevor Bayne brought out the first caution on Lap 17, slapping the wall with an apparent flat tire and collecting AJ Allmendinger.

During the ensuing yellow-flag pit stops, pole-sitter Harvick, who had led the first 18 laps, slid deep in his stall and lost nine spots on a slow stop. His No. 4 Ford quickly sliced through traffic and had moved into second within 50 laps.

Ryan Blaney also fell two laps down early after hitting the wall in the first five laps and then missing the entry to the pits for repairs.

Kyle Larson loses pole position on another inspection failure; Martin Truex Jr. starts first

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LOUDON, New Hampshire – After appearing to bounce back from a penalty, Kyle Larson’s team ran afoul of the law again Friday.

Larson turned the fastest lap (133.324 mph) in qualifying at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but the speed was disallowed afterward for an unapproved rear deck fin on his No. 42 Chevrolet.

That put Martin Truex Jr., who won at Kentucky Speedway last weekend, on the pole position for the first time in 2017.

“Not the way we wanted to get our first pole of the year but looking forward to starting up front and getting a good pit stall,” Truex said in a statement distributed by Furniture Row Racing.

Jimmie Johnson qualified second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne.

NASCAR announced Larson’s disqualification at 6:50 ET, roughly 45 minutes after he seemed to have captured his fourth pole position of the season.

Larson’s car passed a prequalifying inspection, but a postrace inspection revealed that the part improperly had shifted.

Larson will start last for the second consecutive race after the latest of numerous run-ins with NASCAR inspectors. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver also started from the rear at Kentucky Speedway after failing to get through inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt (which also happened at Texas Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway).

Larson is working at New Hampshire with interim crew chief Tony Lunders in place of Chad Johnston, who was suspended three races for an improper rear brake cooling assembly at Kentucky.

Larson also was docked 35 points for the infraction, knocking him from atop the standings behind Truex.

“I honestly know nothing about race cars, so I don’t honestly know what it was that got us in trouble,” Larson said Friday when asked about the Kentucky penalty. “Yeah, it was a big penalty, so it must have been something important in their eyes.”

Larson will be held 30 minutes from the final practice Saturday at New Hampshire after failing prerace inspection multiple times at Kentucky (where his car was last to be rolled to the starting grid before it completed a race-high 90 green-flag passes in finishing second).

The disallowed speed serves as the penalty for Friday’s infraction, meaning there will be no further penalties for the unapproved rear deck fin next week.

Click here for the Cup qualifying results at New Hampshire.