Heading to Phoenix, Martin Truex Jr. Vying for Consistent, Positive News
February 25, 2014
If it seems that Martin Truex Jr. has continually been in the media spotlight since the beginning of year, it’s because the Furniture Row Racing driver has indeed run the gamut of intriguing news -- from positive to amusing to not so amusing.
There was that entertaining Sprint Media Tour interview via Skype from the Caribbean island of Anguilla, being snowed in at Charlotte for his scheduled departure to Media Day at Daytona Beach, Fla., qualifying on the front row for the Daytona 500, getting collected in a multicar accident in the Daytona qualifying race, posting fast speeds in practice and then being the first car to exit Sunday’s 500 due to a broken oil pump belt.
“Wow, I guess we did all that and the season is only one-race old,” Truex said. “Hopefully we can settle down, be more consistent and come back as THE news story on Sunday in Phoenix. My thoughts are toward the future. I don’t like to think about what happened on Sunday in Daytona, but a post-race Phoenix headline that reads, “From Last to First” would be just fine with me.”
Truex added, “When you have the start like we had in the Daytona 500, you look forward to the second Sprint Cup race of the year even more. We had a great Furniture Row Chevy in Daytona but an oil belt malfunction put us out of the race early.”
Truex knows that before his No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet can contend in Phoenix it first must figure out the challenging and complex 1-mile oval.
“The (Phoenix) track changes a lot throughout the weekend,” Truex stated. “When we get there and start practice it seems like the track is really slick and really dirty and it’s hard to get a hold of. But as we start laying down rubber, it changes the grip. For me, it seems when the race starts the car is nothing like it was in practice. That’s one of the challenges in Phoenix.”
Truex, who has one top-five, six top-10s and one pole in 16 starts at Phoenix, went on to explain the other difficulties about the Phoenix track.
“Phoenix is also a difficult racetrack because the turns are so much different,” Truex noted. “Turns three and four are kind of a flat, big-wide sweeping corner like New Hampshire; turns one and two are a little tighter with more banking like Richmond. And so trying to balance out the banking differences and the radius differences makes it hard to get the car working good in the corners.”
To add to this weekend’s Phoenix intrigue is that it will be the first Sprint Cup race for NASCAR’s new group knockout qualifying format.
“Regarding the new qualifying system, I am excited about it because Todd (Berrier, crew chief) is really innovative and he comes up with what seems to be crazy ideas,” Truex said. “And once we start getting into this new qualifying format I think it will evolve rather quickly. There are a lot of smart people in this garage area. I think the biggest challenge with this new format is making all the qualifying runs on one set of tires. You are going to need to run hard enough to advance and not too hard to wear out the tires so you can be fast at the end.”