Opinion: Truex Jr. Never Gave Up

Martin Truex Jr.
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In order to truly grasp the essence of what Martin Truex Jr. accomplished this year by winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, it’s important to look at his past. The veteran driver has experienced more ups and downs than a ride at Six Flags.

The highs have included a pair of XFINITY (then Busch) Series championships, 15 career Cup wins (with more than half coming this season) and of course the title in NASCAR’s premiere series.

However, the lows have been equally impactful on the other end of the spectrum.

Truex Jr. scored his first Cup win in his second full season. Thanks to a rainout it happened on a Monday at Dover. Being the “Monster Mile” is the New Jersey’s native true home track, waiting the extra day wasn’t a big deal for Truex Jr. or his family and friends who stuck around to experience the historic accomplishment.

Little did anyone know Truex Jr. would not visit Victory Lane until six seasons later. His tenure with Michael Waltrip Racing was the epitome of frustration and Truex Jr. became the poster boy for the “without bad luck, he’d have no luck” club.

It took until 2013 for Truex Jr. to finally win again when he crossed the finish line first in Sonoma. The euphoria lasted a total of about three months before Truex Jr. would be thrown into his professional abyss.

On the fateful night of September 7th that season, Truex Jr. found himself the unwitting pawn in the MWR scandal that rocked the sport.  The fumbled attempt by the organization to manipulate the outcome of the race by instructing Clint Bowyer to purposely spin and cause a yellow in an attempt to lock two of its cars into the playoffs was a black eye for the entire NASCAR world. It backfired to say the least and Truex Jr. was penalized after the sanctioning body's investigation, missing the playoffs completely.

"All we did at Richmond was race our car as hard as we could,” Truex Jr. explained as the victim of circumstances.  “A lot of bad stuff has happened to us that we really had no control over. It's no different than running a race as hard as you can and get a flat tire. Some things in life you can't control. Those things you can't worry about. We'll move on.”

He was forced to move on when sponsors bailed and the cheating scandal ultimately forced MWR out of business.

Suddenly the driver with great promise who had started to fulfill his potential at NASCAR’s highest level was on the scrap heap and nearly out of the sport.

Which is when the Cinderella part of the story kicks in and Truex Jr. found his Fairy Godfather in Furniture Row Racing team owner Barney Visser. 

Truex Jr. joined the team in 2014 and after some initial lean times, things began to gel in 2015. The move to Toyota and alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing the following season propelled Truex Jr. and the team into the sport’s upper echelon. Everything came to a crescendo this year with the Cup Series crown.

“Never give up” is a fitting mantra for Truex Jr. It’s a refrain that fits both his personal life with girlfriend Sherry Pollex and her battle against cancer as well as his professional career.

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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