Martin Truex Jr. feels he has a score to settle at Texas Motor Speedway.
After winning races last year on the 1.5-mile tracks of Las Vegas, Kansas, Kentucky, Chicagoland, Charlotte, and Homestead, his second-place finish in the AAA Texas 500 last fall was disappointing.
“We’ve settled one score in California and it’s time to settle another in Texas,” Truex said in a press release. “We’ve definitely had the cars to win at Texas, but haven’t been able to close the deal. We’ve led a bunch of laps there and came close last fall. Hopefully we’ll have the same result in Texas this weekend as we did in California.”
The second-place finish last fall was only his fourth top five at Texas, but Truex has finished in the top 10 often enough to make this his sixth-best track in terms of average finish. With 14 top 10s to his credit, he has an average of 13.1 in 25 races. By comparison, Truex’s average at Auto Club is just 18.2 in 18 starts despite his win in March.
Truex’s career stats tell only one part of the story though. Since Cole Pearn assumed the crew chief duties of the No. 78 in 2015, Truex has swept the top 10 in six Texas starts and earned two of his four top fives on this track. On two occasions, he led the most laps – in spring 2016 with 141 and last fall with 107.
“It sure would be nice to get that Texas monkey off our back,” Pearn said in the press release. “The competition is fierce, and in order to have a chance to win, you have to have maximum performance in all aspects of the race team.”
Last year’s runner-up finish was even more disappointing because Truex lost the lead to Kevin Harvick with only 10 laps remaining.
“It seems that something has always come up to bite us late in the race at Texas,” Truex said. “There’s not much you can do but just keep plugging away and hope that the chips will fall in our favor this weekend.”
And while top fives are still relatively rare for Truex at Texas, they have been commonplace in 2018. He enters this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 with five consecutive results of fifth or better.
“The mile-and-a-half tracks have been good to us and that’s why we go into a race like Texas with plenty of confidence,” Truex said. “But at the same time, you can’t depend on what you had or did in the past at these tracks. Rules and track conditions continue to change and you have to be ready to make the right adjustments to offset the changes.”