CORNELIUS, N.C. — No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. is ready to take his new found luck to the “Lady in Black” Saturday night when the Sprint Cup Series races at Darlington Raceway, one of NASCAR’s historic tracks.
Last year, Truex led 25 laps finishing fifth on the 1.336-mile, egg-shaped oval. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver arrives at the South Carolina track this weekend after leading 193 laps in the last four races that included second-, fourth- and seventh-place finishes.
Last weekend in Talladega, the Mayetta, N.J. native miraculously avoided two multi-car accidents and overcame a pit road penalty for the seventh-place finish. The good fortune might have something to do with a fan-donated lucky charm he carries in his car each week. A seashell rode with Truex at Talladega and Saturday night a troll will ride on his dashboard.
RACING AT DARLINGTON: “It’s one of the places we go to where you have to race the track. If you get caught up in racing someone too hard or lose focus for just a second, you are in the fence. I think that’s why I love the place so much. It is definitely one of my favorites. I have come so close to winning there a few times and last year I feel like we kind of gave a win away. I look forward to going back there. I love the challenge and running up against the fence. I love everything Darlington throws at us. I mean, when you go into Turn 1, the car slides. You don’t know when the car is going to stop. We are so close to the wall. There are parts of that track where you feel like you are out of control. I think that’s why it is so fun to be able to go out and do that for 500 miles.
“I’m not superstitious, but whatever we’ve been doing of late seems to work so we aren’t changing anything and if it takes a troll riding on the dashboard, I don’t mind the company in the car.”
ON QUALIFYING: “A qualifying lap on new tires is pretty hairy. Qualifying is going to be crazy fast. We tire tested there and ran laps in race trim that were faster than last year’s pole. I am excited to go there and I can’t wait to stand on the gas and see where it takes me.”