Truex Jr. Turns The Corner

Denny Hamlin may have stolen all of the freshman headlines, but Martin Truex Jr.'s rookie NEXTEL Cup Series season had its moments as well.

Hamlin was the runaway Rookie of the Year honoree, winning the Bud Shootout as well as two Cup races at Pocono while qualifying for the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup."

Truex Jr.'s transition from the Busch Series, where he'd won the previous two championships, wasn't as successful, but the young driver showed signs of improvement down the stretch.

That included a runner up finish to Greg Biffle in Sunday's season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"It's been a pretty tough season," Truex Jr. said. "The last few months we've really come together and had some good runs and just to be able to close the deal, feels really good."

After starting the year on a disappointing note, Truex Jr.'s Bass Pro Shops team began to make adjustments as the year went on, which paid dividends in a number of races.

"We figured out a lot of things throughout the season and that was just about the time where we started putting them all together," Truex, Jr. said. "We were running some new cars that we were building and it was just something, it just took us a long time to find some things that worked."

"There was so many times that we had just a decent car and we'd make bad adjustments on it and just make bad decisions on changes, and that really hurt our car at the start of the race. Just took us awhile to build up that notebook and that confidence and that set of things that we could use each weekend."

Once the team tasted some success, Truex Jr.'s confidence began to rise and the consistent finishes followed. In all, Truex Jr. scored five top-10 finishes with Sunday's runnerup his second top-five of the season.

"You know, for a long time there, we were just kind of shooting in the dark, and took us a while to get some experience and some confidence," Truex Jr. said. "Once we got that, we just got on a roll, and our cars have been really good ever since. Just credit to my team for giving me great cars and doing a great job and making them drive the way I need them to."

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