NASCAR notebook: Martin Truex eyes success at Pocono

By The Sports Xchange
Martin Truex,Jr. drives a warm-up lap in Homestead, Fla. Photo By Gary I Rothstein/UPI
Martin Truex,Jr. drives a warm-up lap in Homestead, Fla. Photo By Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

Distributed by The Sports Xchange


LONG POND, Pa. -- Martin Truex Jr. is enjoying life at the top of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pyramid.

He's the series leader in points. Entering Sunday's Overton's 400 at Pocono Raceway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN), he's tied for the series lead in victories with three. And he's the runaway leader in playoff points with 29, a whopping 14 coming from stage wins.

Truex is at the top of his game, with a team that's a perfect fit for his personality and driving style. Just don't forget that it took him 10 years to get there.

That's why Truex's younger brother Ryan, who is racing in Saturday's Overton's 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event, isn't overly concerned with the state of his career.


Ryan Truex is seven years into a NASCAR journey that has taken him from the K&N Pro Series to sporadic starts in all three of the sanctioning body's top touring series. This year is the first time, however, that Truex has enjoyed a full-time ride with an established team and a solid, consistent crew.

"Honestly, it's motivation more than anything," Ryan said of his brother's success with Furniture Row Racing. "Just to see everything he's gone through. When he came into this sport, it kind of seemed like it all came pretty easily for him. In the Xfinity Series and up to the (Monster Energy NASCAR) Cup Series, he was just able to progress really quickly and run really well.

"Then he started to struggle in the later DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) days, when it transitioned to Earnhardt Ganassi. Then, when he went to MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) with (sponsor) NAPA, things were starting to look up. He finally won that race (at Sonoma in 2013) that got the monkey off his back and made the Chase."

But the roller coaster ride was far from over. When MWR was penalized for manipulating the outcome of the 2013 regular-season finale at Richmond, Truex lost his spot in the playoff and NAPA left the organization, leaving Truex without a job.


"He didn't know if he'd even have a ride after that year," said Ryan, who at 25 is 12 years younger than his brother. "But, honestly, it might be the best thing that ever happened to him, because he went to Furniture Row ...

"Seeing all that, it's taken him 10 years to get all that stuff lined up, for the stars to all align. So when I look at my career and how I've kind of jumped around -- starting my career, I kind of moved up really quick -- and kind of hit the Xfinity Series at the wrong time."

Ryan was 18 when he ran seven Xfinity races for MWR in 2010. Racing for team owner Shigeaki Hattori this season, he's currently eighth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, fighting for one of eight available spots in the playoffs.

"I've been racing in NASCAR for seven years, and I'm finally full-time," Ryan said. "Seeing him (Martin) go through that and finally, 10 years later, getting what he needed to go out and be a contender for a championship, it motivates me and keeps me comfortable in knowing that I've got time."



Pocono is truly one of a kind.

The Tricky Triangle earns its name from the three distinct corners that bear no resemblance to each other. Turn 1 is tight, but banked. Turn 2 is a sweeping corner that's deceptively difficult, and Turn 3 is a flat corner that sets up a run down the longest straightaway in NASCAR racing.

So is it better to set a car up for one particular corner or to try to achieve a balance that gives up something -- but not too much -- in each of the three?

"I feel like there's compromise on the whole track, not just the three corners," says Grant Enfinger, who will make his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Pocono after eight races in an ARCA car. "There are certain times that you can do something that helps you through the corners there -- gets you off of Turn 3 a little bit better -- but it hurts you on the straightaway. These trucks are really, really draggy.

"There's compromise over the whole track. Turn 1 has a lot of banking that'll hold you a little bit. The Tunnel Turn (Turn 2) is its own animal, and Turn 3 is really, really flat, so it's definitely a compromise over the whole track."


A contender for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, Enfinger is driving the No. 98 ThorSport Racing Toyota. In his eight ARCA starts, he posted a victory, two runner-up finishes and seven top 10s -- for an average result of 6.9.


What can Ryan Preece possibly do for an encore?

Two weeks ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Preece finished second to teammate Kyle Busch, the all-time leader in Xfinity wins.

On Saturday at Iowa Speedway, Preece will get his second chance to drive the No. 20 Camry -- with little room for improvement.

"It's great -- I get a second shot at this," Preece said during a question-and-answer session at Iowa Speedway. "So it's a great opportunity. But what I'm really looking forward to is going over notes with my crew chief, Chris (Gabehart), and the team."

When teammate Christopher Bell made his second NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Iowa in June, he won the pole and led 152 laps before falling victim to a late wreck and finishing 16th.


"Christopher Bell had a really good race car here, so just kind of looking at the characteristics he fought from practice... and just looking for forward drive. That's going to be huge. Just going to be looking for that grip, and hopefully we can back up what we did at Loudon."

The bad news for Preece this week? He can only gain one position from his finish at New Hampshire. Everything else is downside.

The good news? Kyle Busch is otherwise occupied with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event at Pocono.

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