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From the Marbles

2012 season in the rear view: Martin Truex Jr.

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

Vitals: 11th in the points standings. 0 wins, 7 top 5s, 19 top 10s. 2 DNFs.

Moment to remember: At Texas and Kansas, the seventh and eighth races of the Sprint Cup Series season, Martin Truex Jr. led a combined 242 laps. Texas was a sixth place finish and at Kansas, he looked poised to take his first win since at Dover in 2007. However, after hiding behind the clouds all day, the sun appeared over the final laps of the race and Truex faded while Denny Hamlin's car came to life and he took the win. Truex finished second.

That race was Truex's fifth straight top 10 and through those eight races, he was second in the points standings. While he finished 25th and 28th in the next two races, that stretch showed that Other Junior was going to be a significant player in 2012.

Moment to forget: Given that a typical Sprint Cup race features more than a handful of start and parkers, it takes a significant early calamity for a team who races for the win to finish last. And at Phoenix, the second to last race of the season, that's what happened to Truex. After qualifying second, he lost an engine just 10 laps into the race, or, coincidentally, right before Jason Leffler parked. Truex finished 43rd.

The wrap: In the first 26 races of the season, Truex finished in the top 10 14 times. He didn't deviate far from that trend during the Chase, finishing in the top 10 five times. However, given the torrid pace that Brad Keselowski set and the lack of bonus points from going winless in those first 26 races, Truex never really was in contention. The engine failure at Phoenix dropped him from eighth to 10th in the standings and thanks to Jeff Gordon's win, he fell out of the top 10 and was denied a spot at the banquet despite finishing 6th at Homestead.

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