Charlotte Rear-View Mirror


Truex won his sixth race of the year Sunday taking the checkered flag in overtime in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)



There’s not another word to sum up Martin Truex Jr. this season.

The Furniture Row Racing driver won his sixth race of the year Sunday taking the checkered flag in overtime in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He did it in his usual methodical style, on a weekend that didn’t start out great with an off qualifying effort. But Truex Jr. more than made up for it late coming from the 17th starting spot to win.

Most NASCAR fans don’t like or appreciate dominance. The Jimmie Johnson championship era proved that and Truex Jr.’s season is bringing it to the forefront again. It’s in the DNA of most fans to want different winners every week and unless it’s your driver or team, the sight of the same outcome on a seemingly weekly basis isn’t usually popular. I get it.

However, at the very minimum, you have to root for Truex Jr. the person. A driver that was nearly out of the sport thanks to being guilty by association in the Michael Waltrip Racing scandal at Richmond in 2013 has resurrected his career with FRR.

It’s impossible not to bring Truex Jr.’s personal life, the cancer battle he’s in with long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex and the charitable work the couple does in the face of such unthinkable adversity.

The old adage in sports reporting is to root for stories, not drivers or teams. There’s no doubt the best story right now is Martin Truex Jr. And he also happens to be the best driver.

  • The jury was definitely out about the application of the PJ1 traction substance to the track in Charlotte this weekend. Several drivers slammed the wall in Friday’s practice session including Dale Earnhardt Jr., who went to a back-up car, and Kyle Busch. Martin Truex Jr. also had some challenges racing over the substance joking it should be called “slime” this weekend. Because of the rain Saturday, the substance wasn’t applied for the Cup race with the “Tire Dragon” used to try and create better grip. But things didn’t go well in Sunday’s race for Ryan Newman, who crashed after getting hit by Clint Bowyer who bounced off the wall. Newman didn’t mince any words when asked about the track conditions saying “They’re fabricated, what do you expect.” It will be interesting to see what tracks if any work on track surface grip the remainder of the playoffs.
  • Kudos to NASCAR, Charlotte Motor Speedway and NBC for accelerating Sunday’s start time by an hour due to the potential weather around the Charlotte area. As part of a new policy, start times can be moved up by an hour should there be weather concerns. But it also brought to light how 1 p.m. ET green flags, which were the norm for many years before being shifted later primarily in hopes of attracting a larger television audience, have their own advantages and charm. Sunday brought back memories of the days “Church, Chicken and Checkers” were part of so many long-time NASCAR fans’ memories.
  • As predicted Saturday’s XFINITY Series race turned out to be interesting at least from the playoff perspective. While Alex Bowman won making it three drivers not in the series championship picture taking victories in the opening round joining Tyler Reddick and Ryan Blaney, the battle between Brendan Gaughan and Ryan Reed for the final playoff berth and move on was intense. Reed earned the spot and Gaughan was knocked out of the title chase, but it was a thrilling end to a long day and night at Charlotte. The only thing that would have made it better is if the duo were fighting for the race lead as well.
  • Denny Hamlin made headlines earlier in the week when he addressed drivers’ salaries and questioned how NASCAR’s revenues to teams. While he was criticized by many fans who don’t take well to millionaire athletes requesting more pay, Hamlin did bring up some points that are apparently being addressed by the sanctioning body. “There’s a lot more we can do, and we’re going to do it,’’ NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France told NBC Sports. “That’s what the charter opportunity gives the chance to do. We’re working with (teams) to see how we can control expenses in a way that has not been done in motorsports before.’’

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.


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