One of the better NASCAR venues for Martin Truex Jr. has been Texas Motor Speedway, site of Sunday's Duck Commander 500 Sprint Cup Series race.
Last year at the Texas spring event Truex nearly pulled off the win. He led 142 laps and was in the lead when the final caution came out for debris with 21 laps remaining.
Truex lost the lead to Kyle Busch coming off pit road and went on to finish runner-up, scoring his second top-five and eighth top-10 in 17 career starts at the 1.5-mile oval located in Fort Worth.
Along with his impressive performance one year ago, Truex’s Texas Motor Speedway highlights also include: a third-place finish (fall race, 2007) and two poles (fall 2007 and spring 2012). His average running position at Texas of 13.7 is 10th best among active drivers and his driver rating of 89.1 is 11th best.
“If you want to contend at Texas, your car needs to have plenty of speed,” said Truex. “Texas is going to be really, really fast. I am sure that we’ll run wide open or close to it during qualifying. I expect a new track record - it’s going to be ridiculously fast. What we learned at Las Vegas and California will help us develop a baseline for Texas, especially California because of the bumps in the track.”
Truex added, “I am confident our Furniture Row Chevrolet SS will have the speed, and hopefully I can have the same performance in Texas as I did last year, except for one position better. Finding the right setup is tricky, but the teams that do will be the same ones you’ll see running up front. Based on our performances – not finishes – but performances in Las Vegas and California I feel our Furniture Row Chevy should be one of the cars running up front on Sunday.”
Truex’s optimism for Sunday's 500 miler (334 laps) is the way his No. 78 Chevrolet performed in both the Las Vegas and California races – two intermediate-sized tracks like Texas.
At the 1.5-mile Las Vegas track Truex was running in the top-six for the majority of the event, but fell back to 14th after a pit-road strategy backfired.
Two weeks later at the 2-mile Fontana, Calif. track, Truex’s bad luck continued. He was forced to a backup Chevrolet after crashing his primary car in practice due to a flat tire. Truex had more trouble in the race when debris on Lap 26 ripped a chunk out of the car’s splitter, resulting in an aerodynamic disadvantage. The splitter problem later led to further car damage, halting Truex’s forward charge.
“We know we can run on the intermediate tracks, we just have to stay out of trouble,” said Truex. “Our luck is about to change. Texas has the potential to turn things around for our Furniture Row team.”