Truex Back at the Top

Martin Truex Jr.

"It feels good to have those bonus points. We're going to try to get as many as we can." (Photo: Getty Images)

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Martin Truex Jr. heads into Sunday's Overton's 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway back on top of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.

Truex won his third race of the season last weekend at Kentucky Speedway and left one-point out of the top spot in the standings, but a penalty to Kyle Larson on Wednesday moved Truex 34 markers ahead. With only eight races remaining in the regular season, Truex is looking to be the series leader at race 26 and collect 15 additional playoff points to carry into the postseason.

When it comes to stage racing, no one has been better than Truex and the No. 78 team. He leads the series with 13 Stage 1 and 2 wins and 235 stage points earned. His sweep of the stages and race win at Kentucky have boosted him to 28 playoff points. In fact, Truex has scored the win in seven of the last 12 first and second stages dating back to Dover International Speedway in early June. 

“It feels good to have those bonus points,” Truex said. “We're going to try to get as many as we can. We know they're going to be important. We could have used a handful of them last year to get through Talladega, so we'll try to keep racking them up.”

Part of Truex's stage success has been his stellar 7.9 average starting position this season.

"I think if you look at our qualifying averages, we've been really stout that way," said Cole Pearn, crew chief of the No. 78. "Definitely our best as a team. I think having good track position to start the race is a huge, important part of it, and you're able to maintain that, it makes it a lot easier to score stage points for sure."

Pearn and the team have been providing Truex with fast cars all season long, which have not only helped in qualifying and to get the wins, but also to lead a series-best 1,115 laps.

"I just show up and get in them," Truex said. "Honestly, the cars nowadays, you can sit in 10 of them, 10 different ones 10 weeks in a row. You cannot tell the difference literally. Those guys are so good at building them. I think literally the only thing I do anymore is move my mirror because it's never in the right spot for whatever reason.  Literally every weekend it's in a different spot, but everything else is perfect."

Truex, who led 152 laps at Kentucky, was out front for the most laps in both races combined at New Hampshire in 2016 with 264. In this event last year, Truex led 123 laps until a broken shifter took him out of contention.

“They say you have to lose them before you win them, and if that’s the case then we are due in New Hampshire,” Truex said.

This weekend, Truex will debut a new sponsor on his No. 78 Toyota with Wix Filters. All three of Truex's wins this season have come with three different primary sponsors - Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats, Auto-Owners Insurance and Furniture Row/Denver Mattress.  

 

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