By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
It’s hard to believe, but it has been 106 races since Martin Truex Jr. entered victory lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Yet things are pointing to a possible return to the land of champagne and confetti this week, as he is entering the site of his last victory… Dover International Speedway.
Truex started the 2010 season off on a high note. He was in the running for a win in the Daytona 500, before settling for a sixth-place finish in the “Great American Race”. This marked his first ever top-ten finish in NASCAR’s Super Bowl race, and it appeared things were going in the right direction for him with Michael Waltrip Racing this season.
Things however got off track for Truex starting the next week in California as he blew an engine, and was relegated to a 39th place finish. For the next three weeks he would finish no higher than 20th, and he would find himself stuck back in 24th in the point standings. Truex and his team would stick with it, and eventually things began to gel.
As a result Truex has rebounded nicely by putting together an impressive string of finishes over the last seven races. During that stretch he finished with a top-five at Martinsville, and two more top-ten finishes at Texas and Richmond. Truex also had an extremely fast car this week at Darlington, and nearly put another top-ten on his record, but a whole slew of issues late in the event kept him mired in traffic. However Truex was able to salvage a 19th-place finish on what he described as a tough night.
“This certainly wasn’t the finish we deserved. This is tough. We needed a caution to get back on the lead lap. If it would have happened we were in the money.” Truex explained, “Our car had the speed. We just needed a break. If we keep bringing cars this fast, it will eventually go our way. Tough, tough, night.”
Even on rough nights though the driver of the No. 56 car has showed the NAPA know how to claw his way back into respectable finishes, and as a result he’s up to 13th in the point standings. I am telling you flat out to expect big things from him this weekend.
If you remember back to June 4, 2007 Martin Truex Jr. came into Dover searching for an identity in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He had won back-to-back championships in the Nationwide Series in 2004 and 2005, but things hadn’t been so easy for him in NASCAR’s elite series, that is until that day.
Truex sliced his way through the field like a hot knife through butter. After starting 26th, he made his way to the lead and dominated the race by holding the top spot for 216 of the 400 laps on the day. Truex would capture his first career Sprint Cup victory, as he crossed the line more than seven seconds ahead of Ryan Newman. Truex would use this victory to catapult him into chase contention, and he would indeed make his first appearance in the Chase for the Sprint Cup that season.
Things in 2010 are looking eerily similar to that magical 2007 season for Truex, as he is again three seasons later, searching for an identity. He has competed well and is on the verge of chase contention, but it will take a victory for people to put him on their radar, and I believe there’s no place better for that win than this week at Dover.