Hot 20 – The Truex Triumph at Pocono Deserves an Encore at Michigan

You need a multi-car operation in order to be successful. At least, that seems to be the prevailing wisdom of the day, but just do not let Barney Visser and his Furniture Row team in on it. Other teams might not like what they would see.

Marching to the beat of their own drummer is just what they do. For example, while most teams call the Charlotte area home, the auto driven by Martin Truex Jr. is prepared in Denver, Colorado. Starting part-time in 2005, Furniture Row has been a Top 30 entry ever since they ran the full schedule with Regan Smith in 2010. They even won a race the next season, but hitting the Top Twenty by year’s end was a struggle.

Their dedication reached fruition in 2013 when Kurt Busch came over for a year, with 11 Top Fives launching them to a 10th best season. Still, no wins, and when Truex joined the outfit last year they dropped again to also-ran status in the standings. That proved to be just a blip on their radar as Cinderella got another shot to go to the ball and wear those glass galoshes.

Last Sunday, Truex gave Furniture Row just its second victory ever when he was the class of the field at Pocono. This was no surprise outcome for a usual also-ran, as they are easily the best team in points amongst the single win teams. In fact, they are second only to Kevin Harvick in points for the season, period. Single car teams are not supposed to do that. In fact, no single car team is supposed to do what Alan Kulwicki did between 1987 and his championship of 1992 these days. It seems to me that those mountain men and women are putting up another solid argument that the prevailing wisdom of the day is not their way, at least not yet.

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While a teammate might not be to too far off in the future, Truex has had some success of his own at Michigan. He had three Top Tens racing for Michael Waltrip, and a pair of runner-up finishes for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2007. After last season’s annus horribilis, this appears to be a year of new beginnings and new successes, for both the team and its driver. Of course, he is among…

…our Hot 20 heading into Michigan.

1 – JIMMIE JOHNSON – 4 WINS (481 pts)
If Chad and Jimmie were girls, they wouldn’t talk for months after a race.

2 – KEVIN HARVICK – 2 WINS (559 pts)
Fourteen races. Two wins. Ten times finishing in second place. Don’t worry, be Happy.

3 – MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 1 WIN (520 pts)
Finally.

4 – JOEY LOGANO – 1 WIN (480 pts)
Starts dead last after rear-end gear change, then gets a pit penalty, yet finishes fourth at Pocono.

5 – DALE EARNHARDT JR. – 1 WIN (465 pts)
You would have thought he, not his buddy, won the race.

6 – BRAD KESELOWSKI – 1 WIN (441 pts)
Brought the beer to the Truex party. while Junior sent some post-celebration head pain relief.

7 – MATT KENSETH – 1 WIN (415 pts)
Family joined the Johnsons and Dillon boys for a Taylor Swift concert. Perks of the profession.

8 – KURT BUSCH – 1 WIN (379 pts)
Took the pole, finished fifth. Just another day at the office.

9 – DENNY HAMLIN – 1 WIN (379 pts)
The way he qualified at Pocono, one would have thought he was Bowyer.

10 – CARL EDWARDS – 1 WIN (368 pts)
Not as good as Newman this season…except for that little ole win he has.

11 – JAMIE MCMURRAY – 427 POINTS
Has completed 96.8 percent of his career laps at Michigan, but fourth in 2004 his best result.

12 – KASEY KAHNE – 417 POINTS
Impromptu body work from Junior helped neither car last weekend.

13 – JEFF GORDON – 411 POINTS
So, Alan and Jeff swore at each other. Am I the only one who notices they are both guys?

14 – PAUL MENARD – 385 POINTS
Caught speeding, got caught again on the drive through, then got a flat. Not a good day.

15 – ARIC ALMIROLA – 379 POINTS
Pocono was not a pointless exercise for Aric. He did pick up a single point for his efforts.

16 – RYAN NEWMAN – 374 POINTS
After just earning five himself, Newman not feeling the love after being Allmendingered.

17 – CLINT BOWYER – 354 POINTS
Billy Scott to replace Brian Pattie atop the box at Michigan. Let the magic begin.

18 – GREG BIFFLE – 343 POINTS
Twelfth was twelve better than teammate Trevor Bayne, which means they still have work to do.

19 – KYLE LARSON – 333 POINTS
Third at Dover, eighth at Pocono and eighth last spring at Michigan. The time is now.

20 – DANICA PATRICK – 328 POINTS
Deserved a better fate last Sunday.

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