Truex Seeking Success in Charlotte
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on May 14, 2013 | 4:14 P.M. EST
Truex has shown strength on 1.5-mile ovals this season and hopes to translate that into a victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr.’s nearly six-year winless drought could soon end at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will spend the next two weekends.
Truex heads into All-Star Weekend with 11 top-10 finishes in the last 13 points races on 1.5-mile ovals. While Saturday's Sprint Showdown and All-Star Race don’t count in the official statistics, next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 will.
In the three races run on 1.5-mile tracks this season - which is the distance around CMS, Truex has finished no worse than eighth including a runner-up showing in Texas.
"I'm not sure exactly what the reason is," Truex said of his success at intermediate tracks with crew chief Chad Johnston. "Chad and I have a better understanding of what we need at those racetracks, and are able to get the car good enough in practice and get the feel I need to where it's good in the race."
Even with that success, it's not translated into a victory - leaving Truex out of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race as of now. He’ll compete in Saturday's Sprint Showdown, the 40-lap preliminary race from which the top two finishers will advance into the main event. Truex knows he’ll most likely need to grab one of those two spots, realizing that Danica Patrick is the favorite to win the fan vote and advance.
"We should win that race," Truex said of the Showdown, an event he won in 2007 and 2010. "Anything less would be a disappointment."
Truex said his victory in the 2007 Sprint Showdown sparked the team, and helped it win at Dover two weeks later and make the post-season Chase for the first time. Other than his 2010 Showdown win, which doesn’t count in official statistics, Truex has not won a points race since June 2007 - 215 races ago. He’s finished second six times during that stretch, more than any other driver without a win in that period of time.
As Truex continues to search for his second career victory, the question is posed: How does he feel when David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports, a driver and team who have had limited success, win a race?
"That was pretty cool to see somebody like that win," Truex said. "Other than that, honestly you don't really think about it."
His focus now is on running well at Charlotte, a track that's tormented him at times. His 10th-place finish there last fall was just his third top 10 in 15 starts.
"Charlotte has not been one of my favorite racetracks as far as being successful, and being able to get my car to do what I want it to do," Truex said. "We've struggled with getting the car turning well."
Making the All-Star Race would give him 90 additional laps on the track at night and that’s key since practice for both the All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 comes during the day.
"Track time is very important with the new Gen-6 car going there for the first time," said Truex, currently 14th in points. "We've tested there, but testing is testing (and) that was three or four months ago. A lot has changed. There's a lot to learn. If you don't make that (All-Star) race, I think you'll be behind the eight ball come '600' weekend."
Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of Saturday's Sprint Showdown and All-Star Race beginning at 6:30 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MotorRacingNetwork.com.