My Favorite Martin

He'll soon te be senior Junior at DEI and Martin Truex is loving life.

Truex, Jr. has been on a hot streak since winning his first NEXTEL Cup race last month in Dover, scoring his fourth top five in the last five races Sunday in the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

The two-time Busch Series champion came home third Sunday in Loudon, proving again that he's certainly a force to deal with this season.

But Truex, Jr. was still a bit disappointed after Sunday's run, which featured a hard-fought battle with Jeff Gordon down the stretch for second.

When eventual winner Denny Hamlin took two tires on the day's final stop, it helped the sophomore driver move up to the front of the field, a spot he would not give up the rest of the day.

Truex, Jr. was hoping he would be the second year NEXTEL Cup driver standing in victory lane.

"That last set of tires, for some reason, just didn’t cooperate with me," Truex, Jr. said. "Man, before that my car was really, really good,. I put that set on at the end and it wouldn’t turn and it was real loose off the corner.

"Denny kind of snookered us with those two tires. He was fast at the end, though. You can’t take anything away from him."

Truex, Jr.'s DEI teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who finished right behind the Bass Pro Shops No. 1 Chevrolet in fourth, thought his partner had a shot at running down Hamlin and winning the race.

"Martin had good track position and I thought he could get (Hamlin) but (Hamlin) ran better than anyone expected him to on two tires," said Earnhardt Jr."

The disappointment in not doing better despite finishing third shows just how far Truex, Jr. and company have come since their win in Dover.

The confidence level has soared and now solidly in the top twelve in the point standings, Truex, Jr. has a legitimate shot at winning this year's title.

“Six months ago I would have killed somebody for this third-place run," he said. "Lately, we know what we’re capable of and we need to get them when we can."

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