One year removed from a NASCAR Sprint Cup season during which he led all of one lap, Martin Truex Jr. has nearly turned things around for his Furniture Row Racing team.
“Times change,” said Truex, who will start on the front row alongside pole-winner Denny Hamlin for Sunday’s FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway.
Last season was one of the more challenging Truex has faced – on and off the track. But this season he’s second in the Cup points standings and has done just about everything but win. That first victory could come Sunday at Dover International Speedway, a track that means a lot to him.
Truex grew up in nearby Mayetta, N.J., and the first of his two career Cup victories came at Dover in 2007.
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“I really enjoy coming here, this is one of my favorite tracks” Truex said. “That is usually a good sign.”
Truex landed at Denver based Furniture Row after he left Michael Waltrip Racing in 2013. He had been kicked out of the Chase after NASCAR found that MWR had intentionally tried to manipulate the outcome of a race at Richmond.
At first, Truex struggled at FRR. He had just one top five finish in 2014 and led one lap – at the October race at Talladega.
But thanks to a new crew chief and feeling more comfortable with his surroundings, Truex has turned things around this season.
Although he has yet to win, Truex, 33, has had a strong car in the past two races, leading 95 laps at Kansas earlier this month and 131 at last week’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He trails only Kevin Harvick in the points standings.
All that’s left is to win.
“It all depends on how you look at it,” Truex said. “When you look at it from the side, ‘Well we probably should have won, or had a good chance to win the last two races,’ it is a little frustrating. You understand how hard it is to put yourself in those positions. You never know when your next opportunity is going to come.
“But for us to come from where we were last year to be in those positions ... it’s important for us not to lose focus of what we’ve been able to accomplish so far.”
Truex is bringing the same Chevy that performed so well at Kansas and Charlotte to Dover. In fact, his team didn’t begin working on the car for the Dover race until 2 a.m. Tuesday, before transporting it from its shop in Denver back to the east coast.
Truex also said his new crew chief Cole Pearn, who had been Furniture Row’s lead race engineer, has been key in the team’s resurgence.
“We are just on the same page,” Truex said of his relationship with Pearn. “We have similar personalities. We kind of approach things the same way and think about things the same way. I guess he is like my Canadian brother. I’ve learned a lot from him already, and I feel like I’ve helped him some as well.”
Truex has good news on another front.
Sherry Pollex, Truex’s longtime girl friend who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, has responded well to treatment.
“I’m still in my maintenance chemo, but I live a normal life with it,” Pollex told NASCAR.com recently. “Even if Martin wasn’t doing well on track, we’re kinda winning at life. There are so many things we are thankful for.”