Martin Truex Jr. hopes his recent good fortune at Las Vegas continues into the 2018 season.
The first of Truex’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series-leading eight victories last season came at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, almost one year ago.
The race served notice of what was to come throughout the 2017 season. Truex became the first (and remains the only) driver to win both stages and the race itself under NASCAR’s new format.
He went on to claim his first series championship at Homestead and celebrated the title on a return trip to Las Vegas in December.
“No question we had some special moments in Las Vegas last year,” Truex said. “The victory was a confidence booster to our team. It not only took the pressure off for making the playoffs but it also showed that we had some strength at the mile-and-a-half tracks.
“But the win and everything that happened during Champion’s Week in Las Vegas was last year and we don’t dwell, focus or gloat on past accomplishments. Right now we are 100 percent committed to getting back to Victory Lane.
“The focus is as high as it has ever been.”
Truex and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team have gotten off to somewhat of a slow start this season considering how he ended the last.
He finished 18th at Daytona and fifth this past weekend at Atlanta, but has led just five laps in the first two races of the season. In addition, Truex’s No. 78 Toyota failed to pass pre-qualifying inspection and he was forced to start the race from the back of the field.
“The way we bounced back in Atlanta was a big lift to our Furniture Row Racing team. We showed that we can come from the back of the field (started 35th) and run up front,” Truex said.
“That was encouraging.”
Proving your worth in Vegas
Still, Truex is seventh in the series standings – the same position he was in before the Vegas race one year ago.
In other words, it’s quite possible Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 could one again showcase the No. 78 team’s 2018 title prospects.
“We are all working hard figuring out the new rules and it is evident the competition is fierce and if you let your guard down you’re going to be on the outside looking in,” Truex said. “The next three races have been good tracks for us and I am excited about that.”
Truex’s Vegas run a year ago ignited a run that saw him climb to the top of the series standings by Coca-Cola 600 in May. He would never drop below second for the remainder of the season.