Daytona 500 officially kicks off new season on Feb. 18
DENVER, Colo. (Feb 5, 2018) — Turn out the lights the party’s over. It’s back to business as usual for Martin Truex Jr., the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion.
The above Willie Nelson lyric is exactly how Truex feels as his celebratory offseason is nearing the checkered flag.
“No doubt it’s been the busiest but also the most exciting offseason of my career,” said Truex, who has made a number of personal and media appearances since winning the NASCAR title in late November.
Some of his offseason stops included New York, Denver, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Toronto and a trip to Minneapolis to take part in the Super Bowl pregame show on NBC and watch his beloved Philadelphia Eagles defeat the New England Patriots for the NFL championship.
Truex, who led the Cup series last year in a number of statistical categories, including eight wins, 19 top fives, 26 top 10s, 2,253 laps led and 19 stage wins, is both relaxed and confident about 2018.
“I feel zero pressure about starting the new season,” said the Mayetta, N.J. native. “We’re comfortable in what we are doing and having a lot of fun at the same time. The guys back at the shop in Denver are grinding it out to make sure we are prepared.”
Truex and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team will leave later this week for Daytona Beach, Fla. to take part in Speedweeks that will culminate with the opening points race – the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway. But before the 500 Truex will compete in non-point events at the famed 2.5-mile tri-oval, starting with a doubleheader on Sunday (Feb. 11) — Daytona 500 pole qualifying (12:15 p.m. ET, FOX) followed by the 75-lap Advance Auto Parts Clash (3 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1).
He will drive his primary Daytona 500 car — the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota in pole qualifying and will then switch to the No 78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Camry in the invitational Clash.
“The Clash is a nice way to kick off the season,” said Truex. “It’s mostly just a fun race to knock the rust off and learn a little bit about the competition and who will be strong. We’ll be racing against all the fast guys in the Clash and that’s a good measuring stick for Speedweeks. Both the Clash and pole qualifying will give us a feel for our race package and to see where we stand against the competition.”
Pole qualifying will lock in the front row for the Daytona 500 and determine the starting lineup for the Can-Am Duel qualifying races on Thursday evening, Feb. 15 (FS1, 7 p.m. & approximately 9 p.m. ET). The duel races will in turn determine the Daytona 500 starting field except for the front row.
Sunday’s Clash will be Truex’s seventh career appearance in the non-points opener. His best finish in the Clash was second in 2015. His best Daytona 500 pole qualifying efforts were first in 2009 and second in 2014.
No. 78 Over-the-Wall Crew, 2018
Josh Leslie, Mount Clemens, Mich.
Josh Shipplett, Winder, Ga.
Lee Cunningham, Lake River, IL
Eric Groen, Sioux Center, Iowa
Brian Dheel, Norton, Ohio
Pit Crew Support
Adam Mosher, Fort Mill, S.C.
No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Road Crew, 2018
Joe Garone, Denver, Colo.
Cole Pearn, London, Ontario, Canada
Blake Harris, Maypearl, Texas
Ass’t Car Chief
Gary Frost, Romeo, Mich.
Jeff Curtis, Fairfax Station, Va.
Pete Craik, Melbourne, Australia
James Small, Melbourne, Australia
Gregg Huls, Beatrice, Neb.
Toyota Racing Development (TRD)
Clayton Hughes, Thomasville, N.C.
Nick Kerlin, Old Fort, Ohio
Tommy DiBlasi, Annapolis, Md.
Nino Venezia, Philadelphia
Rob Fairweather, Westbrookville, N.Y.
Eric Cragun, Pleasant View, Utah
Chuck Lemay, DeKalb, IL, Barry Huston, Bloomingdale, Mich., Roy Miller, Elkridge, Md., Mike Clementson, Cambridge, Md., Jon Adkins, Hickory, N.C.