New Hampshire Motor Speedway isn’t just another track on the Sprint Cup circuit, at least not to Martin Truex Jr.
In an interview with the Boston Globe, Truex calls the 1.058-mile track in Loudon “sacred ground.”
The track, which is the site of Sunday’s 5 Hour Energy 301, is a significant in the life and racing career for the Furniture Row Racing driver who hails from Mayetta, N.J., located six hours south.
It’s one of the tracks Truex built his career on in the K&N Pro Series East, but it’s also where he watched his father, Truex Sr., race as he grew up.
In a nine-year career in the K&N East (formerly known as Busch North), Loudon was the site of the elder Truex’s only win, coming in the Auto Palace / Slick 50 150 on July 9, 1994. His brother, Ryan Truex, won there twice in 2010.
“Certainly, my Dad was [a hero], but New Hampshire was always their biggest race of the year,’’ Truex told the Boston Globe. “That was their (K&N East) Daytona, so I always kind of held New Hampshire as sacred ground just because of that. Winning races there has had a lot to do with me getting an opportunity to move down here and drive the Busch Series and it’s just been a special place for us.’’
Truex Jr. followed his father into the K&N Pro Series East circuit driving the family-owned No. 56 Chevrolet. In 62 races from 2000 to 2003, Truex Jr. won 13 poles and five races, including twice at NHMS.
Only one of those races, the 2000 Busch 125 at Loudon, did both father and son race together.
Now Truex Jr. is in his 10th full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series, which also happens to be his best. Though the last three races are not representative of it.
After earning 14 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races of the season, including a win at Pocono, Truex and his No. 78 Chevrolet recorded two straight DNF’s at Sonoma Raceway and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.
Last weekend, Truex started fifth but wound up in 17th for his worst non-DNF finish since he was 29th in the spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Currently fifth in points Truex isn’t in dire straits, but he’s also not officially locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Only points leader Kevin Harvick has achieved that status.
Will NHMS help him get there? While the track has a special place in his heart, the “Magic Mile” hasn’t been special to him in recent years.
Truex has an average finish of 14.4 at Loudon and in the last 12 races dating back to 2009, has only two top-10 finishes of eighth in 2011 and 10th in 2013.
“The first thing that comes to mind about New Hampshire’s flat track is that it’s very difficult to complete a pass on,” Truex said in a team release. “It makes life a lot easier if you have a strong qualifying effort and a car that is equally as strong in race trim.”
While Truex’s resurgence in 2015 includes an average starting spot of 11.1, at Loudon, his career average is 12.6.
“Track position is obviously very important,” Truex said. “It is also a difficult track to get your car working the way you want, and a difficult track when it comes to pit strategy.”
Truex’s attempt to recapture the family magic at the Loudon begins tomorrow with the Sprint Cupfirst practice session, at 11:30 a.m ET on NBCSN.