Does the Lady Have a Mild Crush on Martin Truex Jr.?
April 9, 2014
It appears the Lady and Martin Truex Jr. have developed a special chemistry.
“I’d rather think of it as a mutual feeling of respect,” said Truex about the Lady in Black, the longtime nickname for the formidable Darlington Raceway, site of Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500.
But when taking a close look at Truex’s Sprint Cup career numbers at Darlington’s egg-shaped, 1.366-mile oval, there appears to be more than a mutual respect over the past eight years.
The Furniture Row Racing driver enters the historic Southern 500 with the third best finishing average (11.4) among active drivers. In eight career starts at the daunting track, which has sidelined the best-of-the-best since 1950, Truex’s worst finish is 19th. The other seven finishes were in the top-15, including one top five and three top 10s.
And what’s really impressive for a track, whose Turn 4 wall seems to jump out and randomly grab race cars, Truex has completed all but one lap – 2,939 out of 2,940 -- in his eight career starts.
The Darlington lap completion rate of 99.99 percent is another indication that it’s more than an infatuation for Truex and the track known as Too Tough To Tame.
“I absolutely love Darlington Raceway, it’s probably my favorite track on the whole circuit,” said Truex. “It’s a fun track -- you can attack her, but she can also reach out and bite you whenever she feels like it. Yes, it’s a delicate situation, and you sure don’t want to be on the wrong end of it.
“You’re living on that edge at Darlington, putting the car against that wall all night long. You have to be aggressive, and at the same time be perfect, within a half-of-an inch from the wall. It does make for a really fun race.”
Truex, who is in his first season driving the No. 78 Chevrolet SS for Furniture Row Racing, has been in contention to win at Darlington, one of NASCAR’s most celebrated races.
“I’ve always run well at Darlington and been in position to win, but never could put together the strategy to be in the front at the end,” explained Truex. “The Southern 500 has plenty of history and it’s a race we all want to win.”
Sealing the deal at Darlington for Furniture Row Racing came to fruition in 2011 when the team and its driver Regan Smith both scored their first career Sprint Cup victories. Another Darlington highlight for the Denver-based, single-car team came last year when driver Kurt Busch captured the pole.
“The Darlington formula for team and driver is there, we just need to successfully put it together and bring home an exciting result in our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet,” said Truex, whose best Darlington finish of fifth came in 2012.