Martin Truex Jr. set for 300th career Cup start this weekend

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Martin Truex Jr. was apparently caught off-guard at the fact that he’ll be making his 300th career Sprint Cup start this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I had absolutely no idea that my 300th start is coming up,” he said in a Chevy release. “I’ve been blessed to be with some great race teams and have enjoyed plenty of fond memories. Looking back, it seems like a long time ago that I made my first start but it really wasn’t.

“They say when you’re having fun, time flies, and in my case that is so true because I have had an incredible amount of fun over the years.”

Truex made Cup start No. 1 on October 31, 2004 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a Dale Earnhardt Inc. car. He finished 37th that day due to an engine problem that knocked him out late in the running.

In 2006, Truex achieved full-time Cup status with DEI and in 2007, he earned his first Cup win at Dover International Speedway. However, it would be another six years and 218 races before the New Jersey native returned to Victory Lane at Sonoma Raceway as a driver for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Right now, Truex and his new Furniture Row Racing team are looking for their first strong result of the season in Las Vegas. Truex had an engine blow on him at the Daytona 500 and last Sunday at Phoenix, a lack of grip on his No. 78 Chevy relegated him to a 22nd place finish.

“Las Vegas will be another good test to see where we are at with the new rules package for the 2014 car,” he said. “The first two races have not turned out the way we had expected, but we’ve also had some positive signs.

“It would be nice to look back and remember how successful the 300th start was.”

Truex has claimed two Top-10 finishes in his last three starts at Las Vegas, including an eighth-place finish last year for MWR.

Christopher Bell survives caution-filled Chili Bowl Prelim

TeeJay Crawford
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Christopher Bell survived the most caution-filled Feature of the week to win Thursday’s preliminary night at the 33rd Annual Chili Bowl. His ability to hold the lead on restarts helped lock Bell into his seventh Saturday A-Feature since 2013.

“I pretty much suck on restarts. I do better when I get into a rhythm,” said Christopher Bell on twitter.

Bell started the feature in third place behind Danny Stratton and Jerry Coons Jr. He took the lead on the first official lap of the race, but not until after two Lap 1 cautions.

The Oklahoma native held the lead through the remaining 24 laps and eight cautions until being challenged by Shane Golobic and CJ Leary on the final laps. Golobic briefly made it past him though Turns 3 and 4 of the final lap. Bell regained control in 1 and 2 to claim the checkers.

“It was a lot busier than what I wanted them to be. Shane definitely made a race out of it and I hope the last four laps were a good show. It was a lot of fun … well it was fun because I won but if I hadn’t won it wouldn’t have been much fun,” Bell said regarding the final laps.

Golobic earned the second transfer into Saturday’s A-Main after starting to the outside of Bell.

Leary completed the podium with the pole sitter Stratton finished fourth.

Josh Most battled through the B after a hard crash in his heat. He rebounded to transfer to the A and drove from 22nd to fifth.

With the throng of cautions at the start and finish of the race, the goal quickly became survival. Only 15 of 24 entries completed the full feature. Notable DNF’s included Ryan Bernal who started fifth, Coons, who started on the front row and Thomas Meseraull in 15th.

NASCAR’s Justin Allgaier finished 13th and will have a long day ahead of him on Saturday.

Friday Jan. 18 will be the final Qualifying night for the 33rd annual Chili Bowl Nationals.

MORE: Rico Abreu wins Chili Bowl Night 3 
MORE: Kyle Larson wins Chili Bowl Night 2

Thursday’s Results

1. Christopher Bell
2. Shane Golobic
3. CJ Leary
4. Danny Stratton
5. Josh Most
6. Austin Brown
7. Tracy Hines
8. Casey Shuman
9. Kyle Cummins
10. Andrew Felker
11. Austin O’Dell
12. Seth Carlson
13. Justin Allgaier
14. Chase Johnson
15. Johnny Herrera
16. Ryan Bernal
17. Jerry Coons Jr.
18. Matt Sherrell
19. Thomas Meseraull
20. Jake Morgan
21. Andrew Deal
22. Kevin Bayer
23. Kaleb Currie
24. Joe B. Miller