Just like the rest of his peers in the Sprint Cup Series, Martin Truex Jr. has gone through three different aero rules packages in the last three races: Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis.
“It hasn’t been that big of a deal driver-wise, adapting to the packages,” Truex said Friday at Pocono Raceway during his weekly media availability. “It’s all relative. When they take downforce off everyone, the good cars still seem like the good cars.”
Now comes a return to NASCAR’s regular downforce package in this weekend’s race at Pocono. And it’s an event that’s all the more important for Truex, as he won there in early June, all but assuring his spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“It feels a little different coming back this time,” said Truex, who will also be driving a new race car in Sunday’s race. “It feels good, for sure. It was definitely a huge weekend for us.
“Hopefully, we can repeat what we did last time. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re up for the challenge.”
And challenges are something Truex has had to endure quite a bit of late. Since winning at Pocono in early June, he was third at Michigan and then things went downhill in a hurry.
He wrecked at Sonoma (finished 42nd) and Daytona (38th) before things started going back in a positive direction at Kentucky (17th), Loudon (12th) and his fourth-place finish last Sunday at Indianapolis.
“We definitely ran into a string of bad luck there in Sonoma and Daytona, getting caught up in crashes,” Truex said.
“I felt like we had a real good car at New Hampshire, one of the better ones we’ve had in years, and then got caught a lap down by the caution. And then last week at Indy, we had a pretty good car but we didn’t have the speed to lead, but it was a good top-five.
“So it’s been kind of up and down here lately, but I still feel we have speed in our race cars. We haven’t been at any tracks where we feel like we’ve really performed well at. I think we’ve got some more good tracks coming up and still feel like we have that momentum, we’ve just had some bad luck along the way.”
Truex hopes to pick up where he left off at Indy when it comes to momentum and success. He feels confident he can double-up and win both of this season’s races at Pocono, much like former teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. did last year.
“We have that bit of a safety net, so to speak and I think we can tend to take chances a little bit more, but we’re still here to win and get the best finishes we can,” Truex said. “I definitely feel a little more pressure because we were so good here the last time, but at the same time, you don’t want to screw it up.
“But at the same time, the track’s a little bit different (with the bumps over the tunnel turn now gone) and everybody’s gotten better.”