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Martin Truex hopes homecoming at Dover brings change of luck

By
The Sports Xchange
Martin Truex Jr. .UPI/Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell
Martin Truex Jr. .UPI/Joe Marino-Bill Cantrell | License Photo

DOVER, Del. -- After last Saturday night in Kansas, Martin Truex Jr. needed a home game, and Dover International Speedway -- the site of Sunday's AAA 400 Drive for Autism (1 p.m. ET on FS1) -- is the closest NASCAR track to his native New Jersey.

"It's always good to come here," Truex said. "It's my home track. I love coming up to this race track for a lot of reasons. Of course, being close to home is always neat, but a lot of friends and family come to this race, so it's always neat to see them.

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"Most importantly, I love the race track. Our cars have been fast this year, and I'm looking forward to hopefully going back to Victory Lane, that's what it's all about, that's what we're here for. I'm looking forward to the opportunity."

Dover has a special place in the fabric of Truex's career. In 2007, the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota collected the first of his three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories, leading 216 of the 400 laps and winning by 7.355 seconds.

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Since then, however, Truex has led more than 100 laps in a race on seven different occasions -- and is 0-for-7 in converting those races into wins. The latest example came last Saturday at Kansas Speedway, where Truex led 172 laps in a dominant car but lost the race when a broken bolt prevented a tire from mounting properly and cost him an extra pit stop.

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The saving grace is that, this year, the Furniture Row car has been consistently fast, and Truex has rebounded from the disappointment.

"It's a lot easier than if you weren't fast and let one slip away and felt like your chances or the opportunity would be hard to get again or it was going to take a while to get that opportunity again," said Truex, who was seventh on the speed chart in Saturday's final Sprint Cup practice.

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"It's definitely easier when you're running good, and you feel like every time you show up at the race track there's an opportunity, (and) you can get up there and lead some laps and have a shot at winning. It definitely helps."

But there's no medicine like winning, and for Truex, no better place to do it than at Dover.

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THREE NASCAR PERSONAGES MAKE TIME MAGAZINE LIST

It's only appropriate that Time Magazine's recent list of the "Top 10 Most Influential Car People in Sports" would include three individuals who have made their respective marks in the NASCAR ranks.

Brian France, chairman and CEO of the sanctioning body, was No. 5 on the list because he "puts cars in front of more eyeballs than just about anyone else in sports."

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Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas followed at No. 6 for joining forces with Tony Stewart to make his organization a "top-tier Sprint Cup contender." Also worth mentioning is the over-achieving Haas F1 team, which has already scored championship points in its debut season in Formula One racing.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. weighs in at No. 7 because "one of every five marketing dollars spent on NASCAR is spent on Dale Earnhardt Jr. One visit to the Fanatics Trackside Superstore at any NASCAR track is all you need to confirm that assertion.

For the record, here's the full list, topped by reigning F1 champion Lewis Hamilton:

1. Lewis Hamilton, 31; Formula One race car driver

2. Ken Block, 48; Global Rallycross Driver, Hoonigan Racing Division; founder, D.C. Shoes

3. Floyd Mayweather, 39; Retired boxing champion

4. Alex Vega, 41; Owner of Auto Firm in Miami, Florida

5. Brian France, 53; Chairman and CEO of NASCAR

6. Gene Haas, 63; Owner, Stewart-Haas Racing and Haas F1

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 41; Driver, #88 car, Hendrick Motorsports

8. C.J. Wilson, 35; Pitcher, Los Angeles Angels and owner of C.J. Wilson Racing

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9. Yoenis Cespedes, 30; Outfielder, New York Mets

10. David Beckham, 41; Retired soccer player

SHORT STROKES

Two different Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas led Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practices. Kyle Busch topped the speed cart in the morning session with a lap at 157.839 mph. Teammate Denny Hamlin, who was second to Busch in the first practice, was fastest in Happy Hour with a lap at 157.329 mph. ... None of the three drivers who rolled out backup cars after crashing in Friday's practice cracked the top 15 in final Sprint Cup practice. Jamie McMurray was 17th at 154.586 mph. Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick were 21st and 28th, respectively.

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