Why Martin Truex Jr. is still NASCAR’s dark-horse favorite in the Chase

Image courtesy of @RIRInsider.

Image courtesy of @RIRInsider.

Late Monday night before Martin Truex Jr. packed it in, the veteran driver put out a tweet to express his thoughts. It was a simply statement, but one that summarized the season thus far for Truex and Furniture Row Racing.

Every NASCAR fan knows Truex has been phenomenal this season, but he’s been sneaky consistent in the Chase as well. Even a third-place finish at Charlotte kept Truex flying under the radar. That comes after an average finish of 10.6 during the first round of NASCAR’s postseason.

Sure, it wasn’t quite the performance Truex put up earlier this season at Charlotte when he led 131 laps before heartbreak when he finished fifth. Yeah, a single-car team considered a fifth-place result “heartbreak” earlier this year.

But as Truex told us before the Charlotte race got underway, he’s expecting a win to come—in this round. While there are less spots after the second round, Truex didn’t have any concern heading into Charlotte.

“I feel better about the second round than I did the first honestly,” Truex said. “I feel more confidence in the first two races of this round because of my past history at Kansas. Any one of these next couple races, I’m going to get a victory there. That’s a really good feeling.”

Truex prepares for his third-place run at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Image courtesy of Heather M. Smith.

Truex prepares for his third-place run at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Image courtesy of Heather M. Smith.

Charlotte might have been the track where Truex looked the most dominant, but his stellar run through the summer started at Kansas. After leading 95 laps, he got “snookered,” as he called it, out of a win. Truex would ultimately finish ninth before leading 359 laps over the next three races capped off by a win at Pocono.

So can we expect similar results at Kansas on Sunday?

“Honestly, I think going to Kansas, a win is huge,” Truex said. “It would be so huge. It’s so critical to try to get that win out of the way. Logano is the only one that’s going to sleep for the next two weeks. You know what I mean? Kansas has been one of my best racetracks, and certainly one of my best since I went to Furniture Row. 

“Honestly, we’re going there as hard as we can go with everything we have to try to win just because we know Talladega is that wild card. Third is great, but yeah, I mean, our strategy is we still think we need to win next week.”

If Truex can survive at Kansas and Talladega, he’ll be set for the third round as well. Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix were some of Truex’s best tracks in 2015 with an average finish of 7.33. That’s nearly on par with his average of 7.4 in repeat Chase races this year.

Given his performance on the track all season long, there’s no reason not to believe he’ll be competing for a title in Homestead-Miami. The No. 78 Furniture Row machine might be under the radar now, but it will be impossible not to pay attention in the final race.

 

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