Martin Truex Jr. not in 2017 form but "I feel we're right there"
Martin Truex Jr. is well aware that he is not the master of stage and playoff points that he was one year ago on his way to his first NASCAR Cup Series championship.
By no means, though, does he believe it’s still not possible to replicate last year’s success.
“I feel like we’re right there. I think if you look at last year, we had two wins at this point in time. One of them we may or may not have been the best car,” Truex said Friday at Pocono Raceway, site of his first Cup win with Furniture Row Racing (2015).
He’ll start fourth in Sunday’s Pocono 400.
“I think if you look at it right now, with some of the bad luck we’ve had with the blown tires and getting caught up in a few wrecks here and there, aside from that, we’ve been right up front every single week,” Truex said.
“I know we haven’t been leading the laps that we did last year or winning the stages, but it just seems like last year things were just rolling. They were just rolling our way, and it seemed like we couldn’t do anything wrong.”
This season, there have been a few stumbling blocks for his No. 78 Toyota team.
In one four-race stretch, he wrecked out of Texas, wrecked and finished the Bristol race with a damaged car, suffered a pit stop miscue at Richmond and was collected in an early-race accident at Talladega.
Still, he has one win, eight top-five and eight top-10 finishes and three poles through 14 races. He also finished second in his last two outings, Kansas and Charlotte.
“This year it’s been a lot tougher, but I feel like performance-wise and making the right decisions and getting the job done under pressure – all those kind of things – I feel like we’ve done a really good job at, and we’re right there, really not far off where we were last year,” Truex said.
“It’s amazing how different your results can be when you feel like you’re kind of doing the same job. But that’s just racing, and that’s kind of how it goes. So I think for me, I feel good about where we’re at.
“I think we definitely have a little bit more room for improvement this year as far as figuring out some things with our car and just being a little bit more dialed in when we get to the race track.”
None of his career-best eight wins last season came at Pocono – he finished sixth and third in the track’s two events. He’s been on the right track, though, starting first, second and second in the last three races.
“This race track has been really good to us, too, at Furniture Row Racing,” Truex said. “Had some really strong runs, got a first win here together, and it’s been overall I feel like one of our stronger tracks, so I’m excited about the weekend.”
Garrett Smithley to make Cup Series debut at Michigan
New aero package may be used in three Cup races this season