Season Review: Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr.

Truex dominated the 2017 season, leading all drivers in the following categories: wins (8), top fives (19), top 10s (26), laps led (2,253), average start (6.8) and average finish (9.4). (Photo: Getty Images)

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2017 Race-by-Race Results | 2017 Detailed Statistics

Martin Truex Jr. enjoyed a dream season on his way to winning his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Truex dominated the 2017 season, leading all drivers in the following categories: wins (8), top fives (19), top 10s (26), laps led (2,253), average start (6.8) and average finish (9.4).

Along with the wins, a big part of Truex's road to the championship came when the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team adapted the best to the new format of stage racing NASCAR implemented to start the season.

"That played into the favor of the cars that were fast and the teams that performed well, performed at a high level throughout each week and each race," Truex said. "It was something that worked for us."

Excluding the season finale, where he was unable to earn stage points because he was part of The Championship 4, Truex collected a total of 438 points in Stage 1 and 2 in 35 races this year to lead the series. He earned points in 54 of the 71 (73 overall) stages he was eligible to earn points in and led the series with 19 stage wins, each worth 10 points.

"There’s no telling how it will work for us next year," Truex said. "You've just got to be fast, qualify well and lead laps. That what we did this year."

Martin Truex Jr.The first stage win of the season for Truex came at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he became the first driver to sweep both stages along with the race win.

"To win a race that early in the season was huge," Truex said. "We'd never won early in the season before. To get that out of the way, know that we can just push, try to go out and just win races from there was a big relief. It was a big confidence booster for us."

Truex swept an entire race once again at Kentucky Speedway in July. He also won the opening two stages in one race at Dover International Speedway (June), Michigan International Speedway (June) and Darlington Raceway. His other race wins during the regular season came at Kansas Speedway in May and at Watkins Glen International in August.

With the help of stage points, Truex moved into second place in the series standings after the ninth race of the season at Richmond Raceway, where he finished 10th. After that, he never fell lower than that position and took the top spot in the standings after his Kentucky win and held it through the end of the season.

Truex entered the playoffs at Chicagoland Speedway as the No. 1 seed with a 20-point advantage over Kyle Larson. He won the Chicago race for his first of four wins in the playoffs. Truex led the series in average finish (4.3) and top fives (nine) in the 10 playoff races.

Martin Truex Jr.He won the Kansas playoff race to become the first driver to sweep both Cup races at the track in one season. The victory was a challenging and emotional one for Truex and the team. They honored Jim Watson, a crew member who died of a heart attack the night before the race, by scoring the win after coming back from an early restart violation and an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel.

“We couldn’t believe some of the things that were happening and thought there was no way that we were going to win that race," Truex said afterwards. "I can’t believe how this day went and that’s why you never give up, 'cause you never know what could happen.

"We were definitely racing with heavy hearts, losing Jim. He was a heck of a guy, a great worker and put a lot of speed in these Toyotas. So glad we could get him one here."

While he did not post a win in the Round of 8, Truex clinched a spot in The Championship 4 based on points after posting two consecutive runner-up finishes to open the round. In the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Truex held off a hard-charging Kyle Busch while leading the final 51 laps to win the championship.

Martin Truex Jr."I found a line that worked for my car with 20 laps to go that I couldn't find all day long," Truex said after the race. "I had searched for it all day, could never find it, then all of a sudden with 20 to go, I found it. Not only did it help my car, but it hurt Kyle's car. He got to second and when he did, he was three or four tenths faster than I was before I found the line. That was the difference.”

The victory in Miami lowered Truex's average finish to 2.5 in the 11 races at 1.5-mile tracks in 2017. He won a record seven times at those types of tracks in one season, which included four straight.

"What can I say about this team?" said Truex, who became the fifth driver to capture both a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and a NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. "This is unbelievable, a dream come true."

Martin Truex Jr.

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