Martin Tuex Jr. failed to win the Sprint Cup championship at Homestead, but it certainly wasn't because a lack of effort.
The New Jersey-born racer gave it his all in the season finale but it just wasn't enough for the 'underdog' single-car operation to win the Sprint Cup championship.
Truex struggled to find the balance in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet all day long, leading crew chief Cole Pearn to make some gutsy calls in a bid for track position. Pearn's roll of the dice calls were applauded, but unsuccessful in the end. Truex ended the race in 12th spot, last among the four title contenders .
"We knew all three of them were better than us yesterday. We really felt like without trying something quite different, we weren't going to get there because we had tried so many different things throughout practice, different packages, to try to get the feel or get some -- really get some grip in the car. It just was never there for us. So we figured we had to take a big swing at it, and honestly I don't think it really was any worse than it was in practice. We just never could quite hit on it.
"No matter what we did, it wouldn't turn and you couldn't use the throttle at all, either. We fought both problems all weekend, and really if we could have maybe made some gains on at least one of the problems, we might have been a little better.
"We just couldn't get it to do anything we wanted. A little frustrated in that, but a great effort, and I guess you have days like these. Just unfortunate it was when everything was on the line."
Despite a disappointing finale, the turnaround from this organization over the past year is incredibly impressive. It was a career-best season for both driver and team, ending the year with a win at Pocono, eight top fives, 22 top tens, and 564 laps led -- a complete dichotomy of his 2013 season Truex ended the 2014 season 24th in points with just one top five, five top tens, and a single lap led.
"I don't think most people realize just how big of a deal it is and how hard it was for us to get that far," he said of the improvement in performance.
“It was a big deal for us and for our team, for our owner, and for me personally to get this car this far and to have a chance to come in and battle for this championship. It was a big deal for us and I wish we could have performed better today.
"Proud of my guys for the effort and proud of my pit crew as well but we just didn’t have the car when we needed it. Little disappointed, but proud of our season.”
Looking towards the future, FRR's 2016 campaign will be aided by a new technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota -- who just won the championship, as well as 14 races this season. Something Truex and company can be excited about after Sunday's defeat at the hands of their new allies.
"I think this is great motivation for us for next year. I think that with the things we have coming and going to Toyota and teaming up with JGR and all that stuff, I think the future is bright for this team, and we're keeping all our guys together, and hopefully this is our first season battling for a championship but not our last.
"I really feel strong that this is a special group of guys, and if we can keep that together for hopefully the rest of my career, I'd love to drive for them."