Tied for second place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with Kyle Busch, just nine points behind series leader Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr. is looking for everything to go right for him Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
But he’s also well aware of what can go wrong for him or the other seven remaining Chase contenders.
“Nothing is safe at this point,” said Truex, who has an excellent 9.0 finishing average in the first races of this year’s Chase. “You have to go out there and fight for every point you can possibly get.
“You now have seven drivers trying to secure those final three spots. It’s difficult to predict what will happen — all I know it’s going to be a tight battle right to the end to be one of the drivers contending for the season title in Homestead.”
Truex has gone farther than he ever has in any prior Chase. Adding to that distinction is he’s also gone further than any single-car team has ever gone in the Chase, either in the format from 2004 through 2013, or the new revised format that began last season.
“We want to show our fans, the people of Colorado (his team’s home state) and our new sponsor Western Union that we are indeed a championship caliber team,” Truex said in a team media release.
The race at Texas couldn’t come at a better time for Truex, as the 1.5-mile high speed oval is one of his favorite race tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit.
“Texas Motor Speedway has a lot of speed, a lot of banking and the tires wear out,” Truex said. “I enjoy all of those characteristics, which is why Texas has been one of my better tracks over the years.
“Based on how we have run at intermediate tracks this year, I feel good about what we are capable of accomplishing this weekend. We know that everyone is going to step up their game and that’s what we need to do.”
While he has yet to win there, Texas has been very hospitable to Truex over the years. In 20 career starts, he has two top-five – including a runner-up showing in the spring 2013 race there –and nine top-10 finishes, as well as two poles.
He’s also led 231 laps, which is fourth-best of all tracks for him on the circuit. He’s coming off a ninth-place showing at Texas this past spring.
“We felt all along that Martinsville (qualified second and finished sixth there on Sunday) was going to be a tough challenge for us and felt more comfortable with the next two Chase races at Texas and Phoenix,” Truex said. “We have the potential to be in the final four — no doubt about that.
“But we’re in a middle of the dogfight right now and you can’t afford to make any major mistakes. I have all the confidence in our team, led by crew chief Cole Pearn. They have brought fast cars to the racetrack all year and I anticipate the same this weekend.”