Martin Truex Jr has the opportunity in Sunday to repeat as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. Truex has quickly become a sentimental favorite for many fans after his Furniture Row Racing team announced it would close its doors at season’s end.
Truex fans have also rallied to support him after Joey Logano executed the bump and run on the No. 78 to score the win a Martinsville a few weeks ago. Many fans saw this as dirty driving considering Truex ran Logano clean for several laps prior to the last lap chaos.
While Truex may be the sentimental favorite, he is also showing he may be the favorite based on performance. Truex was fastest in first practice on Friday, edging out his teammate, Kyle Busch, who is also competing for a second title. Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, the two other championship contenders were fifth and 16th respectively in first practice.
Truex backed up his practice performance with a solid third place qualifying effort. He will start behind fellow Toyota drivers Denny Hamlin and Busch. Truex indicated the car was just a little off for qualifying but felt confident it would be better on Sunday.
“We were a little too free on that final run. I tried to gain a little bit more, but I just couldn’t quite finish getting the throttle down and I think I lost a little bit there”, said Truex. “It was a good day. Great effort by the guys. Nice, smooth solid day, which is what we needed. We go win this thing from there and we’ll get to work tomorrow.”
In last year’s event, Truex qualified second and won the race to secure his first career championship.