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Truex on stellar 2016 season: “I’m just enjoying the moment"

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Truex on stellar 2016 season: “I’m just enjoying the moment"
By:
Oct 1, 2016, 2:49 PM

Despite all the close calls, missed opportunities and bad luck this season, Martin Truex Jr. still finds himself in an enviable positions entering this weekend’s first elimination race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota

Truex’s victory two weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway locked him into the second round of the Chase, so he’s basically had a free pass last week at New Hampshire and this Sunday at Dover (Del.) Downs International Speedway.

“I’m just enjoying the moment really and I really appreciate it because I’ve been on the other side more likely most of the time than not,” said Truex, who will start second in Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400.

“So, it’s just – I’m just thankful to have a great race team and just really taking it one race at a time and enjoying the moment because it’s – I know what it’s like to be on the other side of that.”

And it wasn’t all that long ago.

Rise to serious title contender

Truex earned his first career Cup series victory at Dover in 2007, but it would be more than six years later before he would win again, this time at Sonoma, Calif.

Since then, he lost his ride with Michael Waltrip Racing and landed with the fledgling Furniture Row Racing operation. While suffering some growing pains with the team, together they have developed into one of dominant teams of the 2016 season.

With three wins and more than 1,400 laps led this year (the most of any driver), Truex and FRR find themselves in good position to capture their first series championship.

“I’ve been doing this quite a long time and had a lot of bad seasons where you watch these guys race and lead a bunch of laps and dominate every weekend and you’re like, ‘Man, that’s got to be so awesome,’ you know?” he said.

“Just to be on the other side of it – to be in that position – has been so much fun. It’s been so rewarding. Obviously, it’s been such a big part of what we’ve been doing the last two years. I have to give my team a lot of credit for that, but it’s just so much fun.”

Shedding the early pressure of the Chase

Getting an early win in one of the rounds has been an extra bonus for Truex, who didn’t have that luxury last season as he marched all the way into the championship race at Homestead, Fla., advancing through each of the three segments based on points.

Losing that pressure for results – if only for a race or two – is a welcome change, Truex said.

“I don’t think there’s any more to it than just knowing that if something bad happens, it’s not going to affect the outcome of your season. I think there’s a lot of potential in the Chase to have one bad race,” the 36-year-old native of Mayetta, N.J., said.

“You know, no matter how good you ran or no matter how good of a season you’ve had we’ve seen in the past that something out of your control can take you out of the opportunity to win a championship.

“So, for us, it’s just one more weekend where we don’t have to worry about that stuff happening.”

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