The two Furniture Row Racing entries ran up front during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway with Martin Truex Jr. finishing third and rookie Erik Jones fourth.
Truex had another strong playoff run, finishing third in Sunday’s Can-Am 500 NASCAR Cup Series race. The result was a career best for the Furniture Row Racing driver at the 1-mile Phoenix Raceway.
“We go into each race with the same attitude and that is to be a contender for the win,” said Truex. “You can’t turn it off and on in this sport. We’ve had trouble at this track in the past but had a good game plan coming in.
“We stuck with the plan all weekend and we were right there all day. It was a good day for Furniture Row Racing and I hope this put a smile on the face of our owner Barney Visser. We’re all thinking of him during his recovery.”
Jones was a mainstay in the top 10 throughout the day. After starting 11th, he finished seventh in Stage 1 and third in Stage 2 despite chasing the handling of the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota from tight to loose and back again.
Truex will close out the 2017 season next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway as one of the Championship 4 drivers vying for the season title. He will be joined by Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. The driver who scores the best finish among the four finalists will be crowned the NASCAR Cup Series champion.
“We’re all excited about going to Homestead with the opportunity of winning the championship,” stated Truex. “This is what we set out to do at the beginning of the year.”
Truex, who started the Phoenix race fifth in the blue No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry, powered by a TRD engine, basically ran in the top-five for the entire race.
“We were right there all day long,” said Truex. “Had a sniff at the lead a couple times – just couldn’t quite get it – but I’ve got to say I’m so proud of (race winner) Matt (Kenseth) and his team and the year they’ve had and really the position they’re in right now. To go out and win that race was unbelievable, so I was really, really happy for him. He did an awesome job.”
With one race remaining, Truex has garnered seven wins, 18 top fives, 25 top 10s and 2175 laps led — all series leading numbers.
Take away the Talladega wreckfest race, Truex’s average finish in the other eight playoff races is 2.37.
Following Kenseth to the checkered flag were: Chase Elliott, Truex, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The race had seven cautions for 41 laps and one red flag for five minutes. There were nine lead changes among five drivers.