NASCAR Cup: Martin Truex Jr. makes 400th start
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Martin Truex is in the midst of his best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, to date, and Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway near Kansas Speedway will mark a milestone in his Cup-level career. It will be his 400th-career Sprint Cup start.
“I am hoping that my 400th Cup start will be much better than my first one,” Truex said. “Can’t believe it’s gone by this fast, but I am sure enjoying every race, especially this season. It’s been awesome to be part of a great race team.”
That first-career start came at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Halloween in 2004. He finished 37th.
Truex has four wins, so far, this season, 30 races into the season. Those four wins include two wins in the first three-round race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. His first win of the season capped off a dominating performance in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) in May when he led all but eight laps of the 400-lap race (588 miles of the 600-mile distance).
Truex heads into the Kansas race, seventh in the standings with two races remaining in the second round — Sunday’s race at Kansas and the Oct. 23 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. He’s 16 points ahead of eight-place driver Denny Hamlin and 12 points behind Matt Kenseth, the highest driver in the standings without a second-round win (second, overall). Jimmie Johnson won the one and only race of the second round, so far, and therefore, has already clinched a spot in the third round of the Chase.
“The ideal scenario would be tow in Kansas and not worry about Talladega,” Truex said. “But if you don’t win Kansas, you want to finishhigh and have somewhat of a cushion for Talladega, where the odds of getting collected in a wreck are higher than we would all prefer.”
Truex is in his third year as driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota after losing his ride at Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of the 2013 season because of a sponsorship issue. He struggled in his first season with FRR in 2014, but turned things around the following year with a win and 22 top-10s in 36 points-paying races.
“We have a great team,” Truex said. “I’m just honestly thankful that I am getting to show my talent, my capabilities behind the wheel and focus on continuing this roll that we’re on and what it’s going to take to do that, so I don’t take it for granted. I know that in two weeks it could be gone. You just never know in this sport; that’s why I’m living in the moment and enjoying myself. I love working with my race team.”
In all, Truex has seven-career Cup wins, the most recent coming at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, two races ago. After running nine races for Dale Earnhardt Inc. between 2004 and 2005, Truex went full-time Cup racing in 2006, still with DEI-turned-Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. He stayed with that team through the 2009 season, making the move to Michael Waltrip Racing in 2010. He won one time each with each of those teams, getting to victory lane for DEI in 2007 and MWR in 2013.