Martin Truex Jr. is a highly underrated driver in my eyes but it’s easy for people to overlook a guy who has just one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) victory in 268 races. On June 4, 2007, Truex Jr. won at Dover International Speedway by a staggering 7.3 seconds over Ryan Newman capturing his lone NSCS win at what happened to be his home track. If fate was just a little bit kinder to Truex Jr., he could be nearing ten total wins right now instead of still searching for his second. Last weekend he was a few laps away from victory lane until a late race caution ripped it away from him once again. It’s a feeling the Mayetta, the New Jersey native knows much too well.
This weekend, NASCAR visits the recently repaved Kansas Speedway which put on a very eventful race last fall. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought we were in Bristol after a race that had 16 cars post DNF’s and 14 cautions marring the event. In the two races held there in 2012, we had two different winners but the race runner-up remained the same in both…..Truex Jr. It was hard to watch him drive his heart out in the closing laps last weekend only to come up empty handed after running so well. Let me make it clear that in almost every situation, it hasn’t been his fault when these wins got away. Mechanical failures, wrecks, bad pit stops and questionable cautions have all have plagued him every time he seems to have one in the bag.
Truex Jr. has won two Nationwide titles and a total of 19 races across every NASCAR division so don’t think for a second that he lacks the talent to get the No.56 to victory lane. I should also add that he was the 2005 IROC runner-up defeating prominent racers such as 3x Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, 6x Grand-Am champion Scott Pruett, 4x CART champion Sebastian Bourdais and NSCS champions Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch. You don’t just accidentally out-perform those guys. I believe that once Martin gets his second win and he will get it, then the racing world will finally witness his true potential. This illusive win is holding him back and once he gets it, the field better watch out because that NAPA Toyota Camry will quickly become a regular sight in the winner’s circle.
Kansas is a good place for the 30 year old racer to rebound from the disappointment of Texas and finally snag a victory considering his recent record at the 1.5 mile track. There is a contingent of people out there that say losing at Texas will bring him down but I think it will have the reverse effect. All that heart-breaking finish will do is make him hungrier and more driven than ever to get to victory lane. If it’s the last lap and you find yourself battling Truex Jr. for the win, you better be ready to race harder than you’ve ever raced before because you can bet Truex Jr. will put up one hell of a fight. He has the potential to be a championship contender once he finally has that race where all the pieces come together. That monumental victory that is coming will work wonders for his Sprint Cup career and you will see a new, happier and more competitive driver out on that race track.
I know that’s a very bold statement but despite his lack of wins, he’s shown on multiple occasions that he can get the job done behind the wheel of a race car. Motivation and confidence has a funny way of turning a decent driver into a NSCS champion and if you want an example of that, look no further than a driver by the name of Brad Keselowski. It wasn’t too long ago we looked at him as just another driver that had won a race at Talladega back in 2009.
Truex Jr. is a true racer who fought his way to where he is today and I firmly believe that he will win many Cup races in the years to come.