Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr., in his third season with Michael Waltrip Racing, is having the best season of his Cup Series career. Truex Jr. made the Chase for the Sprint Cup for just the second time, and is currently ranked seventh with three races remaining, including this weekend's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, November 4. Not only is Truex Jr. in the Chase, but his teammate Clint Bowyer, in his first year with MWR, is still in the hunt for the title, marking the first season Waltrip's Toyota team has put two cars in the Chase.
"It's obviously been a great season for everybody at Michael Waltrip Racing, and being part of the team, this being my third year, it's obviously a huge step up in the performance of what we've been - of what everyone has been used to seeing with Michael Waltrip Racing," said Truex Jr. in a recent NASCAR teleconference. "So certainly been a pleasure to drive their cars this season. Everybody has done an awesome job."
While Truex Jr. has had a career-best year, with 18 top 10 finishes in the first 33 races of the season, he's still looking for that elusive second-career win in NASCAR's top series: the two-time Nationwide Series champ got his first and only Cup Series win at Dover in 2007, the last time he made the Chase. Truex Jr. and his team are searching for the key to that win every time they take the track.
"To be honest with you, we look at everything, everything that I could do different as a driver, everything we could do different as a team, and just try to be better prepared for the next time we're in a situation, you know, to try to hopefully make better decisions," said Truex Jr. "Now, obviously some of it comes down to just pure rotten luck, cautions, the way they fall and things like that can kind of dictate how those things go, and I feel like for us this year we've probably gave away a race or two by not making the right decision. But there is times also when you make a decision and the circumstances just don't play out the way they need to for you. I think that we'll just keep trying hard, and our cars have been fast enough all year to win races, and we just need to get a little bit of luck on our side and keep doing what we've been doing and hopefully close the deal soon."
Truex Jr. is in his second Chase, and said that things have changed since his last shot at the title. "It's been quite a few years since the first time I was in the Chase, and things have changed a lot, certainly the competition level now is even higher than it was then," said Truex Jr. "As we see, the guys that are leading the championship right now, you really have to be almost perfect, and you can't afford to have a bad race. We've had two bad races, probably two of our worst races of the whole year have come in the Chase. So that's been kind of disappointing with the season we've had. But it's one of those things where momentum is a big thing, and you need to be able to be good on all different types of racetracks. Obviously two of our worst tracks this year have been two that are in the Chase, so that's certainly not what we wanted. But I think we've learned a lot as a team this year about how to be better prepared for next year going in, if we can be fortunate enough to get in the Chase, and have a little bit better idea of what we need to do to make sure we don't have those bad races again."
Source: "Transcript: Martin Truex Jr.," NASCAR Media, October 30, 2012
Paula is a long-time NASCAR fan who also covers the sport at Examiner.com and Skirts & Scuffs.
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