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Martin Truex Jr. Earns Pole, Wants Homestead Win

Martin Truex Jr. has the catbird’s seat at Homestead with the pole position. (Photo: Erik Smith | The Podium Finish)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — As proven over time, Martin Truex Jr. has showcased his determination and resolve at tough tracks like Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The more challenging the track, the better the Mayetta Township, New Jersey native performs and fares as proven in his career. In a time when the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion needs a pick me up, he may have found it when he won the pole for Sunday’s 4EVER 400 Presented by Mobil 1.

In Truex’s past five starts at the 1.5-mile track, his average finish is a staggering 5.0. More impressively, he dominates at this track, leading 188 laps in the past five years at this venue.

With the pressure to make the Championship 4 field creeping in, Truex continues to be a cool customer especially at Homestead.

“Yeah, I feel good,” Truex said. “I felt good coming into this round even though last weekend didn’t go as we would have hoped. There was more potential there than what we achieved. Coming here, I felt good coming in as it’s a good track for us and we’ve always run well here.

“It’s just a comfort zone for me. I had confidence coming in here but didn’t expect to get the pole. After practice, our car felt good in the long run, but pretty excited to be on the pole here. Always good when things go the right way.”

Considering last Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas, Truex and his team overcame adversities including a decision that cost them track position midway in the race. Despite all of that, Truex trusts his crew chief James Small, preferring for him to make the call although he has been encouraged to overrule him when necessary.

Certainly, Martin Truex Jr. loves his chances to win at Homestead. (Photo: Erik Smith | The Podium Finish)

“No, but in that situation, yes,” he said. “And James told me after the fact I should have in that situation. But in the end, crew chiefs know a lot more than racing drivers when the race is going on, so I go with that. But in that scenario, I did feel weird about the decision.”

As trying as that moment was, the highs of winning the championship at Homestead in 2017 remains fervent in Truex’s mind. The moment was made more special as he celebrated his feat with his crew in the wee hours of Monday morning.

“I remember everything about it – the whole weekend, race, every lap,” he said. “Only thing I don’t remember, is when I crossed the finish line until the back straightaway. The party was fun, but nothing crazy as everyone was so happy and excited. We didn’t get to do much as I was on the track until 3 a.m. with obligations.

“The funniest part was a few of my crew guys and team members took a van around the racetrack. I was sitting off turn 4 doing an interview with Jamie Little and FOX, and we see those guys screaming in the van. Just everyone having a big time and happy for everything that happened.”

Given Truex’s longevity in the Cup Series, a second championship has been on his mind as a leading veteran at age 43. Another championship would be validating for the tried and true racer who is the epitome of perseverance in sports.

Another championship would be validation for Martin Truex Jr. and his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team. (Photo: Erik Smith | The Podium Finish)

“It’d mean everything,” he said. “It’d make me and the entire team very happy. Put a stamp on all of the hard work we’ve put in since the start of the Next Gen car last year.

“We’ve had a lot of good runs and wins with the group, but this is the reason we do what we do. Winning it all again would be everything would make me feel better about doing another season.”

As for what keeps Truex going despite his successes, like any athlete or skilled professional understands, the pursuit of excellence burns within him, a flame that has yet to extinguish.

“I think competing for championships and having the ability to keeps you going,” Truex said. “In years past, when we’ve had heartbreakers, we’ve been right there and had a chance. Whether things went right or not, we still felt like we were a championship team.

“You can’t always control circumstances, and outcomes aren’t always what you want, but feeling that you did everything you could, it feels a lot better than not even making it. I feel great about where we’re at and feel a lot better about our direction after signing up for another year.”

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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