In his renaissance year with Furniture Row Racing, Martin Truex Jr. has had a lot of great cars that propelled him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
For most of the weekend, leading up to the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Truex thought he had his worst car of the year.
“This was honestly the worst weekend we’ve had all season long as far as how I felt about the race car,” Truex said after piloting his No. 78 Chevrolet to a third-place finish, his eighth top five of the year and his best finish at the 1.5-mile track.
Truex, who had led 131 laps in the May race at Charlotte, started 15th. That was where he spent much of the weekend’s three practice sessions, posting the 16th, fourth and 15th fastest speeds.
“I thought after practice we’d be lucky to run 15th,” Truex said. “So proud of (crew chief) Cole (Pearn) and my engineers and just everybody for sticking with it, and having a good game plan. You know, we had a good car today. We fought track position all day but once we got up towards the front we had good speed.”
The morning of the race Truex had the mind to approach the 500-mile event in “damage control” mode, just trying to salvage a top-10 finish.
“To get third out of it was a huge step for us,” Truex said.
Truex’s average running spot in the field during the 334-lap race was 8.31 and he only spent 14 laps outside the top 15 in a day when it was “nearly just impossible” for anyone to pass. For Truex that made restarts “as on edge as ever, guys just trying to get everything they possibly could.”
“There were times when I was having trouble in lap traffic, guys that you run down really fast,” Truex said. “I think part of it is that they know that every spot is super important, and if they get that chance to get in there and take a position, they’re going to go for it.”
Now the No. 78 team heads to Kansas Speedway, another track Truex led the most laps at in the spring (95) before falling short with a ninth-place finish. A win would give Truex his second of the year and move him to the third round of the Chase, joining Joey Logano, who qualified with his win Sunday.
“I felt like this round would be good for us. Charlotte and Kansas, we ran so good here in the first race this year,” Truex said. ” It’s so critical to try to get that win out of the way. Logano is the only one that’s going to sleep for the next two weeks.”