Aug 6, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT
Martin Truex Jr.‘s first season with Furniture Row Racing started with an engine failure in the Daytona 500.
Truthfully, it hasn’t gone much better since.
The New Jersey native appeared to be building some needed momentum with back-to-back Top 10 finishes at Dover and Pocono in June.
But he hasn’t garnered such a result in the seven races that have followed.
“It’s just been really tough for us to gain any kind of consistency, not only with our finishes but with our race cars,” said Truex today in a NASCAR teleconference.
“It seems like we’ve really struggled a lot just to find any kind of balance with our cars, and to where we could go throughout a weekend and have something that we could work with. So we’ve kind of been searching.”
But thanks to NASCAR’s new Chase format, a win Sunday at Watkins Glen International would be enough to save the season for Truex Jr. and his No. 78 FRR team.
And Truex can be considered a dark horse in the Cheez-It 355. He’s collected three Top-5s and five Top-10s in eight Cup starts at the Glen. He’s also earned Top-5s in two of the last three.
Regarded as one of the better road racers in the Cup garage, Truex said that he’s enjoyed the challenge of road courses from his early days in go-karts. But he also noted that luck has played a role in his success with this discipline.
“There’s so much that goes into being a good road course driver or having a good car on a road course,” he said. “It takes a lot of things. I’ve been fortunate over the years to have good race cars and teams that understand road racing, and obviously have enjoyed it and have had decent success at it.”
A second Cup road race win (Sonoma, 2013, Michael Waltrip Racing) effectively locks Truex into the post-season. But he is realistic about how FRR would fare in the Chase.
At this point, a victory would not be about “sneaking” into the Chase but simply about raising morale after what’s been a rough season so far.
“It’s about going out and getting a win to boost our confidence as a team, to move us forward, to help us think, okay, we’re making progress,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we all want to win races, and if we would be able to do that, I think that would be bigger just to win than it would be winning just to make the Chase.
“You don’t want to just make the Chase to get knocked out in the first four rounds. We’re just racing each week, taking each week like it’s a new week and going out there and trying to do the best job we can and move our team forward.”
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