The Rise of Truex Jr. - Becoming a Household Name - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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The Rise of Truex Jr. - Becoming a Household Name

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Posted: Friday, July 14, 2017 11:51 am

Martin Truex Jr.
wikipedia

The year was 2013 and Michael Waltrip Racing had just announced that they would be restructuring their team, dropping from three to two full-time cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The scale-back meant that one driver on the team would be losing their ride and would have to pursue other opportunities with racing teams for the 2014 season.

That driver was Martin Truex Jr.

Truex spent more than two weeks not knowing if he would have a job entering the 2014 campaign. Then an option presented itself with Denver-based Furniture Row Racing. The racing team had just opened a position after Kurt Busch had vacated his seat to move to Stewart-Haas Racing.

Truex signed a multi-year offer with Furniture Row in what was ultimately a career-defining move for the New Jersey native.

Entering the 2014 season, Truex had only celebrated two wins throughout his eight-year career in the Monster Energy Series (Dover- 2007, Sonoma- 2013). Fast forward to today and Martin Truex Jr. has become a household name in NASCAR.

Even though Truex’s tenure with Furniture Row started off slowly with only one top-5 showing in 2014, the 37-year-old has now become a familiar face in Victory Lane over the last three years. In fact, since 2015 he has earned eight total wins.

And it was that breakout 2015 season which really put Truex on the map. In addition to earning his first career win under the Furniture Row Racing banner, the driver of the No. 78 car also compiled 22 top-10 showings that year. His consistency on the race track carried throughout the season and into the playoffs, as he advanced to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway where he finished 12th. Truex finished the season fourth in the final series standings, which was a career best for both Truex and Furniture Row.

The 2016 campaign also treated Truex well, as he took the checkered flag for a career-high four times. But unlike 2015, Truex hit a road block in the second round of the playoffs after finishing last at Talladega Superspeedway because of an engine failure.

The Truex trend has certainly continued upward this year in his fourth season with the team. In just 18 races, Truex has amassed three victories, including his latest which came this past weekend at Kentucky Speedway. It was a dominating performance for the No. 78 racing team, sweeping the first two stages at the 1.5-mile track, in addition to earning the race win.

Ask any fan of the sport or member of the industry who has been the best driver in NASCAR this year and you’ll either get one of two answers – Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Larson. Both drivers have burst onto the scene and have taken the sport by storm. Larson (710 points) and Truex (709 points) currently sit comfortably in the top-2 spots of the Monster Energy Series regular-season standings, while 2015 Monster Energy Series champion Kyle Busch (third) is 100 points back with 609.

The difference between Larson and Truex ultimately lies in playoff points. Currently, Truex stands atop the playoff points standings with 28 points. The next closest driver in the standings is Johnson with 16, while Larson and Brad Keselowski are tied for third with 13. Truex’s massive lead is a result of his series-leading 13 stage wins in 2017, in addition to the five points he’s received for each of his three victories. To put his dominance in stage racing into perspective, no other driver has more than four stage wins this season. Not to mention that Truex has swept the first two stages of a race on four separate occasions this year. 

Truex is really setting himself up nicely for the postseason, especially because he can carry over the playoff points that he has accumulated in the regular season through the first three rounds of the Monster Energy Series playoffs. More so, if Truex were to win the regular season championship, he would add 15 more playoff points to his total, putting him in an even better position to advance to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19. The journey for Truex to the top of the NASCAR ladder has been nothing short of easy. And now that he is in the spotlight, he has embraced it and will look to carry it with him throughout the remainder of the season and his career.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, July 16 at

3:00 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, July 15 at

4:00 PM (ET)

NASCAR XFINITY Series Overton’s 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

*The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off this weekend and will continue July 19*

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

July 14

High Performance Driving Group

July 15

Miami Exotic Auto Racing

July 16

High Performance Driving Group

Aug. 5-6 Championship Cup Series Motorcycle Racing

Aug. 12

Give Back at the Track Charity Event

2017 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 19

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race

Nov. 18

Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 200 Camping World Truck Series Championship Race

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