With Talladega on deck, Truex eyes better finishes

When asked if he is being overlooked due to his recent finishes, Martin Truex Jr. doesn’t get defensive, flustered, frazzled or angry. Instead, he takes it in stride, knowing there’s more scrutiny that comes with being the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion.

But no matter what others think about his current record, Truex knows where he stands and feels good about the performances of his Furniture Row Racing team.

After winning at California’s Auto Club Speedway in dominating fashion and claiming five straight top five finishes, Truex has experienced bad luck in the past three races with finishes of 37th in Texas, 30th in Bristol and 14th in Richmond.

While running second in Texas, Truex’s race ended early due to heavy contact with the wall after a flat tire on Lap 80. At Bristol, he was collected in a Lap 3 accident.

And last weekend in Richmond, he led a race high of 121 laps and was running a close second with 10 laps to go. But following a caution, a pit stop miscue dropped him out of contention.

“These things happen in racing and honestly as long as we’re happy with our performance and have that confidence I think we’re in a good place,” said Truex, who has captured three poles in the first nine races. “It really doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks. Honestly, we’ve been doing this long enough to know where we stand and what we need to work on and what we need to do. Focusing on yourself is the most important thing.”

Despite his recent troubles, Truex is seventh in the driver point standings.

When Truex gets to Talladega Superspeedway with his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota for Sunday’s Geico 500 he will be looking to not only snap his current three-race jinx, but also a three-race jinx at NASCAR’s longest track (2.66 miles).

Truex has not finished a race at Talladega since the spring of 2016. He suffered a blown engine in the 2016 fall race, which knocked him out of the playoffs, and got collected in multicar wrecks at both races last year. He has had12 DNFs (did not finish) in 26 Cup starts at Talladega.

“Talladega is not the most desirable track if you would like to break a jinx or a hard-luck streak,” Truex said.  “But we’ve been doing this long enough and understand what this is all about. The outcome at Talladega is not in your hands. You just try to do the best job you can.

“You try to stay near the front and hope to have a little luck on your side to get to the finish. We just haven’t seen the end of a Talladega race for some time. Looking forward to changing that this weekend in our Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Camry.”

Truex’s career Cup record at Talladega is: 26 starts, two top fives, eight top 10s, one pole, 52 laps led, 19.7 starting average and 21.7 finishing average.

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