Can Martin Truex Jr. steal a win away from Chase drivers at Texas?
Martin Truex Jr. may not be in the Chase for the Sprint Cup after being eliminated at Talladega Superspeedway, but he still has the opportunity to shake it up.
With two races remaining in the Chase Round of 8, there are three spots up for grabs after Jimmie Johnson locked himself into the Championship 4 at Martinsville Speedway.
That means at most, only two of the seven Chase drivers can punch their ticket into the final round with at win.
But not if Truex has anything to do with it.
“Coming back like we did after what happened in Talladega the week before shows the true character of this team,” said Truex. “You can’t turn back time and you can’t change the past. I felt all year like this was a championship caliber team and we should be there (Chase). Winning is important, we won two races in the Chase, but we’re not in it anymore and we have to face that reality. The rules are the rules and that’s the way it was set up when it started. All we can do now is do the best we can.”
And the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver has been the best recently at Texas Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
But looking at the results for Truex the past two races, you wouldn’t know it.
In last year’s Chase race at Texas, Truex took the lead with 17 laps to go when disaster struck, as he had to battle through a power steering failure and a loose right-front wheel to salvage an eighth-place finish.
At the sprint race in April, Truex led a race-high 141 laps only to finish sixth after the team elected not to take four fresh tires late in the race.
With that said, it’s safe to say Truex will be racing with a chip on his shoulder the size of the 1.5-mile Texas track, where he has a total of two top fives, 11 top-10 finishes and two poles.
“We let a couple of races get away from us at Texas but feel that we can once again contend for the win,” said Truex. “We need to close the deal there. I love Texas Motor Speedway. The speed, the bumps, the slickness of the track and cars sliding all around. It reminds me of Atlanta, which is also one of my favorite tracks.”
A win in Fort Worth would be the fifth victory of the season for Truex.
And let’s not forget — of the seven drivers looking for a win in the Chase, four of them are essentially teammates of Truex, as the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas of Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards will be fighting for the same real estate in Victory Lane.
“The way we race, Texas is a good fit for our team,” Truex added. “I feel like it owes us one and that’s why we’re going back there with plenty of confidence and a fast Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota.”
So can Truex steal one away from the Chase field in The Lone Star State?
We'll have to wait and see, but all signs point to yes.