After a rare week off, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is heading down to Texas Motor Speedway to have a Saturday night shootout in the Samsung Mobile 500.
Martin Truex Jr. has been off to a fast start this season with two top-5's and four top-10's in six races. Truex currently sits in a four-way tie for third in Sprint Cup Series points and is looking to break into victory lane for the first time since 2007.
Texas Motor Speedway has not been a strong track for Truex for the last few years. In three of the last five races at Texas, Truex finished 25th or worse. Truex doesn’t even qualify well at Texas either with starts of 14th or worse in six straight races.
Truex’s crew chief Chad Johnston discussed this weekend’s race at TMS:
“Since the last time we raced at Texas, we’ve made some updates to the chassis as well as to the parts and pieces that go to it. So far this season, we’ve raced at two intermediate tracks. We’ve made some aerodynamic and downforce gains since then and we have also found more ways to tune on this car. I’m looking forward to this race. I think we can improve upon our qualifying effort. Plus, with the consistency we’ve had at the end of last year and all of this season, there is no reason why we cannot finish in the top 10. If we don’t, I’ll be disappointed. This team turned a corner at the midway point of last year. We’re not a fluke. We’ve got the results to finally back up what we’ve been saying all along.”
I believe that Truex will make great strides this weekend in Texas. A one-time Chase participant (2007 with Dale Earnhardt Inc.) and one-time Sprint Cup winner (Dover, also in 2007), Truex knows he is in a make-or-break season with NAPA and Michael Waltrip Racing.
Since late last year, his team has been building momentum to becoming a serious contender for a championship. MWR debuted a new chassis last November and the increase in on-track performance has been remarkable. Over the last eight points-paying races, the NAPA team has earned an impressive four top-five and six top-10 finishes, and the worst finish over that span was 17th earlier this year at Las Vegas.
The MWR cars as a whole have been really strong this season, all ranking in the top 10 in owners points. I don’t expect that to change any time soon. With talented drivers like Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin as teammates to work with, don’t be surprised to see Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 56 Napa Toyota celebrating in Victory Lane sometime in the near future.
Quotes courtesy of RCR PR