Martin Truex hoping his luck changes at Bristol

Feb 21, 2016; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11) leads NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (78) coming into the finish line during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Martin Truex Jr. is hoping Bristol Motor Speedway will be the venue to shake off the demons that have plagued him in the last five Sprint Cup Series races.

“We’ve had some horrible luck recently, but the good news is we had some really fast race cars,” said Truex, who will drive the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/NRA Museum Toyota in Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.

When taking a look back at the past five races, the Furniture Row Racing driver did indeed have a contending Toyota Camry.

Kentucky
Led 46 laps and was set to retake the lead coming out of the pits on Lap 196 of 267. However, during the pit stop he was called for a questionable passing infraction and was given a pass-through penalty. Finished 10th.

New Hampshire
Led 123 laps and was running second when his shifter broke late in the race. Finished 16th.

Indianapolis
Running second before a flurry of late-race cautions. Finished 8th.

Pocono
Qualified on the pole and led the first 16 laps. But during an early pit stop a flying lug nut bounced off the ground and landed behind the wheel. The lug nut eventually sheared off the tire’s inner stem valve, causing the tire to blow, which sent Truex into the wall. Finished 38th.

Watkins Glen
Was right behind Denny Hamlin for the lead on the last lap, but got rammed into the wall by a trailing car. Truex’s heavily damaged Toyota limped to the checkered flag. Finished 7th.

Bristol Motor Speedway isn’t exactly the ideal venue to have a change of bad luck. The half-mile, high-banked oval hasn’t been kind to a lot of NASCAR drivers over the years, including Truex.

“We all know the odds favor the track at Bristol, so that’s why we have to race smart and not make any unforced errors,” explained Truex. “Qualifying up front is important along with maintaining that track position.”

It’s not that Truex hasn’t been able to manipulate the Tennessee short track. But the close racing along with other factors at Bristol have taken a toll on the veteran driver.

After back-to-back finishes of second and third (summer 2011 and spring 2012), Truex has not had a top 10 as he encountered the Bristol whammy a number of times, including a fractured wrist he suffered in the 2013 summer race.

“We had some outstanding cars at Bristol the past two years, but don’t have much to show for it,” noted Truex. “I thought we had a contending car in this year’s spring race, but pit road issues were too costly to overcome. We also had good cars at Bristol last year, but got knocked out of contention in each of the two races. We’re due for something good to happen at Bristol.”

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