Martin Truex Jr. Asserts Dominance At Charlotte, Even Without Winningby Conan Gasque May 30, 2017
CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr. wants to make it clear that he’s been the dominant driver in the Coca-Cola 600 lately.
In the post-race press conference on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Mike Forde with NASCAR communications tried to credit Truex Jr. with back-to-back dominant performances in the race, but he couldn’t finish the sentence.
“Three,” Truex Jr. interrupted, smiling.
He certainly deserves the credit. Truex Jr. tied Darrell Waltrip’s record by leading the most laps in the race for the third consecutive year. No, he didn’t win this time, but he proved his team has unlocked a secret here.
“I think the last few years, we’ve just really hit on some things that work for us here,” Truex Jr. said.
Those things helped the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Bass Pro Shops Chevy lead 233 of 400 laps on Sunday, including a Stage 2 victory that gives the team 10 Playoff points. They departed Charlotte with the points lead in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“I’ve got to credit (crew chief) Cole (Pearn) and Jazzy (Curtis), my engineer, just for figuring this place out,” Truex said. “I think better cars and me learning more about the racetrack, we’ve been able to continue to build on that success, build on our notes, get better.”
The learning process began in 2014 when Truex first joined the team. Prior to that he “dreaded” running at Charlotte and considered it one of his worst tracks. But it turned out to be one of the few bright spots of his first season with Furniture Row Racing.
“We had an awful season,” Truex Jr. said. “Our cars weren’t running good. Both races, when we came here, for whatever reason, we hit on something that really worked for us. I think probably the two best runs we had that entire season were here.”
Since then, they’ve made it look almost easy. In 2015, Truex led a race-high of 131 laps and finished fifth. Last year, he set a new record with 392 laps led and made it to Victory Lane.
He was sailing again on Sunday until he lost the lead on a late pit stop and couldn’t chase down Austin Dillon at the end. He had to settle for third despite another dominating performance.
“We had a shot at it again,” Truex Jr. said. “Third year in a row we led the most laps. Felt like we had a shot to win. Two out of three he we lost it on fuel mileage.”
Frustrating as it is, Truex Jr. knows his team has found something special at the track, and he believes it will lead to more wins here in the future.
“When we come here, I know what I need my car to do to be good,” Truex Jr. said. “Any time you have success at a racetrack, you get that feel. Until things change majorly with the track or with the rules or with the tires or something, it’s something you can just lean on each time you go to that racetrack.”
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com