Martin Truex Jr.
Season finish: 24th
2014 Season Stats: 0 Wins, 1 Top-5, 5 Top-10s, 0 Poles.
What went right: Truex’s first year with Furniture Row Racing was largely disappointing, but the 78 camp got a much-needed boost in confidence late in the year with solid back-to-back runs at Dover (seventh) and Kansas (fourth) during the Chase. For a group that struggled mightily in 2014, it had to feel good to put those up in the midst of the championship stretch.
What went wrong: After getting thrown out of the 2013 Chase in the wake of Michael Waltrip Racing’s race manipulation incident at Richmond, Truex came to FRR with something to prove. And coming off making that same Chase with Kurt Busch, FRR wanted to show it could cement itself as a team that can punch above its weight. But instead of producing solid results, the team endured through a middling campaign: One Top-5, a single lap led, and a mid-pack average finish of 20.2.
Of course, all of that pales in comparison to what Truex has had to endure off the track. During the summer, his girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and continues to undergo treatment for the disease.
2015 Prospectus: With Todd Berrier going to Joe Gibbs Racing to take over as its director of inspections, Truex gets a new crew chief in 2015 with his former lead race engineer, Cole Pearn. An interesting note on Pearn: In the early 2000s, he competed as a driver himself in Canada’s CASCAR stock car series (the predecessor to the current NASCAR Canadian Tire Series). That experience, along with his engineering skills, might help him mesh quicker with Truex – which in turn could lead to improved performance next year.