The focus for today’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway will be on Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson as they seek to break their tie in the Sprint Cup championship. But don’t be surprised to find Martin Truex Jr. in the mix as the laps wind down.
Truex led 142 laps in April’s NRA 500 at Texas but lost the lead during the final round of pit stops and wound up second. The ending left a sour taste in Truex’s mouth, but now comes a chance at redemption this weekend.
He was only able to qualify 15th for today’s race after leading the opening practice on Friday, but based on his work this year on 1.5-mile ovals such as Texas, he should be able to make his way toward the front at some point.
Truex has collected three Top-5s and six Top-10s on those types of tracks this year, and at TMS specifically, he’s had one Top-5 and three Top-10s in his last four starts. Pace shouldn’t be a problem, and if his pit crew can help him maintain – and gain – track position, all the better for him.
But there’s also an intangible to consider. After being told that he could look for a new ride after Michael Waltrip Racing announced that it would drop to two cars in the wake of sponsor NAPA’s departure, Truex’s future was very much a murky one.
But things are looking up for him now after the recent announcement that he’ll be driving for Furniture Row Racing starting in 2014. And with his Sprint Cup future secure, Truex can simply focus on completing his tenure with MWR with victories.
“All this NAPA team wants to do is go out swinging,” Truex said in a statement going into the weekend. “They have always worked hard and deserve something really good to happen. We’ve had such a great time together and we want to finish out this season strong.”
Today’s race would appear to be an opportunity for Truex to get started toward that goal.