Truex feels at home at Dover speedway

 

Martin Truex Jr. applies the winner’s decal in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 18 in Joliet, Illinois. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. applies the winner’s decal in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 18 in Joliet, Illinois. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

A year ago Martin Truex Jr. was one of the surprises of the NASCAR season.

Not expected to be a threat for the Chase for the Cup, Truex stayed under the radar and used consistency to make it to the final round.

He isn’t sneaking up on anyone this year. He’s firmly entrenched as one of the favorites for the title.

“We were just kind of in the background doing our own thing last season,” Truex said during a teleconference with reporters on Friday. “This year there’s a little bit of pressure when you know what you’re capable of. You see it out there and you know you can get it.”

Truex has already clinched advancement to the next segment of the Chase by virtue of his win last weekend in Chicago. The field will be trimmed from 16 to 12 drivers after next week’s Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway.

It’s always a homecoming of sorts when Truex comes to Dover. He grew up not too far away in Mayetta, New Jersey.

Dover is also the track where Truex won his first career race in the Sprint Cup Series back in 2007. Truex was close to another win this spring but was caught up in a late-race wreck on an 18-car pileup on a restart.

“I always look forward to it. I felt like we had a shot at winning in the spring,” Truex said. “I’ve always loved that race track and got a lot of friends and family in the stands there and that is special. I’m looking forward to finishing off what we had a shot of doing in June.”

The win last week wasn’t without a little bit of controversy though.

His car failed post-race inspection which is normally a 10-point penalty. But NASCAR elected to not penalize him.

Truex defended his team on Friday saying the laser inspection system is often inconsistent and what his car failed on was inconsequential to the win.

“It’s such a little thing, it’s frustrating that it kind of taints your win,” he said. “I don’t want people to look at my guys as cheaters. … We race very hard but always clean.”

It’s been a career year for Truex. He has three victories which is a career-high in a single season.

His Front Row Motorsports team has been helped out by a switch to Toyota and an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing.

“I just feel like our program is a lot better on the track than what it was last year,” Truex said.

“Honestly we haven’t really done anything different, he added. “We had a good season last year but we weren’t dominating races. I think this year with the confidence we have our mindset is a little bit different. We can see what’s in front of us and we know we have a good shot at it.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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