NASCAR Cup: Martin Truex Jr. honored by EMPA
Martin Truex Jr. celebrates after winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
The membership of the Eastern Motorsport Press Association voted Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. its 2016 National Driver of the Year. It is Truex’s second such award, as he also was honored similarly by the EMPA in 2004.
“My racing roots are in the Northeast, and to be recognized by the EMPA takes on a special meaning for the entire Truex family,” Truex said. “My family has spent many days and nights racing at Northeastern tracks, and that’s why I always feel like I’m going home when the NASCAR series competes at Dover, Pocono and New Hampshire.”
Truex visited victory lane four times in 2016, twice in the regular season at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Darling (S.C.) Raceway. His win of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte came after a dominating performance that saw him lead all but eight laps of the 400-lap race, setting records for the most laps led in a race at Charlotte and the most miles (588) ever led in a single NASCAR race, anywhere. Both of Truex’s regular-season wins came in storied races, as win number two came in the Southern 500 at Darlington. He also won twice in the chase, getting to victory lane at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., and at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
“Martin had an impressive season, winning two of the triple crown events — the Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500,” EMPA board member Earl Krause. “He nearly pulled off NASCAR’s version of the triple crown but came up inches short of winning the Daytona 500. He also had exciting Chase victories at Chicago and Dover. I covered Martin since his early racing days at Wall Stadium in New Jersey, and like his father, Martin Truex Sr., he has always been a class act, both on and off the track.”
Truex advanced to the second round of the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup, but a blown engine at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway ended his championship efforts for the season.