To win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship Sunday night, one of the four eligible drivers will have been successful at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The characteristics of Homestead are like many on the schedule. The track is high-speed, has multiple lanes and is 1.5-miles in length. For Martin Truex Jr., the mile-and-a-half facilities were his bread and butter one year ago on his way to the championship. But not this year.
“I would say it’s probably not ‘lights out’ like it was last year,” Truex admitted on Thursday.
Of the 11 races run on a 1.5-mile track last season, Truex won seven. Homestead was among those, which Truex claimed over Kyle Busch to secure the title.
Through 10 races on the same type of tracks this year, Truex has won just once, with an average finish of 7.2. That victory at Kentucky Speedway in July is also his most recent win this season.
Still, Truex is confident heading into this weekend.
“Vegas, we had it,” Truex said of the playoffs. “Vegas, we found it, and we had that race. Just we weren’t good on the short runs, and the race kind of didn’t play into our hands. It’s been harder to hit it this year. There’s no question.
“If I compare this year to last year … last year, we were lights out. The 4 car (Kevin Harvick), if they could hit it, they could beat us. This year, the 4 car has been lights out, and if we hit it, we can beat them. I know if we hit it, we can beat any of them, and we showed that. It’s been harder to consistently hit that target this year. It’s been more difficult.”
Truex led 96 laps in the playoff opener at Las Vegas and finished third. He did not lead a lap at the two other 1.5-milers in the playoffs, Kansas and Texas.
“With that said, though, I felt like both Kansas and Texas, we weren’t bad,” said Truex. “Man, we had everything go against us. Like everything that could possibly happen wrong went wrong, so we really had to battle and fight. Pit stop issues and cautions falling at the wrong time and all that stuff, and we didn’t have any of that last year.
“All that being said, I feel good about this weekend. But it’s going to be tough. It’s not going to be easy. There’s no question.”