For anyone making the argument that Furniture Row Racing is a lame duck because of the team’s impending shutdown, Martin Truex Jr. isn’t buying it.
“I say they don’t know what they’re talking about because they haven’t spent any time around our guys and seen the passion they have for what we do,” said Truex, who qualified 11th for Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. “The same thing that’s gotten us here to where we are as a team is the same thing that will carry us through the end of the season. I haven’t seen any reason to worry or be concerned.”
The reigning series champions have six races left together. Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn are rumored to be headed to Joe Gibbs Racing next season while many others from the group are looking for jobs.
Fourth on the playoff grid, Truex has a 36-point gap on the cutoff line. Advancing into the second round of the playoffs by points, Truex must survive Talladega to keep his advantage intact going into the elimination race next weekend in Kansas. And survive is the key for Truex, since he has not finished a Talladega race since the spring of 2016. Truex’s last top-10 finish at Talladega was the fall of 2015.
“I think if you look in general in what we’ve done in the playoffs, it’s been pretty spectacular outside getting in a few wrecks and some things happening to us,” Truex said. “We undoubtedly stepped up our performance when the playoffs started. That’s what you have to do.”
Off two straight third-place finishes to start the playoffs, Truex was spun by Jimmie Johnson in the final chicane on the last lap at Charlotte. Last weekend in Dover, Truex was running up front when he was collected in the big wreck on the backstretch with four laps to go. Through it all, Truex said he’s “not worried at all” about the team staying the course.
“I think the guys are working hard and as fired up as they’ve ever been,” Truex said. “Obviously, it’s not the greatest situation for a lot of them to be in. They’re doing a great job of being professional and keeping their heads down and trying to do what got us here.”
If delivering a walk-off championship to team owner Barney Visser wasn’t incentive enough, back-to-back titles would make Truex the first driver to pull off the feat since Jimmie Johnson’s five straight from 2006 to 2010.
“It would be unbelievable,” said Truex. “Obviously, that’s our goal right now, and it’s going to be a challenge. I think we’re up to it. I feel like we’re as good or better than we were last year and we’ll just have to see. There are so many things that have to go your way. If we can just shake the bad luck and shake the fact that we seem to get in bad positions here lately, we’ll have a shot at it.”