Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – DOVER, DE – Martin Truex Jr. is happy to come to his home track, but he also understands its pivotal role in his plan to move through the Round of 12 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Truex got the first of his 19 career victories in 2007 at Dover International Speedway, the closest track to his Mayetta, New Jersey, hometown. He won again at the Monster Mile in the fall race of 2016, and his average finish in 25 starts at the concrete track is 12.0.
In the last nine races at Dover, Truex has finished outside the top 10 only once, and that was an 11th-place run in 2015.
Truex is also strong at Kansas Speedway, site of the Oct. 21 elimination race in the Round of 12. He won both races at the 1.5-mile track during his 2017 championship season. All told, Truex has led 726 laps at the Kansas City facility.
What worries Truex is the race that falls between Dover and Kansas—the free-for-all at Talladega Superspeedway. The driver of the No. 78 Furniture has failed to finish the last four events at the 2.66-mile track, thanks to an engine failure and three crashes.
In 27 starts at ‘Dega, Truex has posted two top fives and has led a mere 52 laps. No wonder he feels he needs to establish a safety net at Dover and Kansas.
“Talladega is a wild card, and we haven’t had much luck there, so we need to make sure we shine at Dover and Kansas to make the next round on our own and not worry about what other drivers are doing,” said Truex, who starts the Round of 12 in third place, with a cushion of 38 Playoff points.
Truex was leading last Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course when contact from Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet sent him spinning into the outside wall at the exit from the final chicane. Truex finished 14th.
“We had the performance to win all three of the races in the first round,” said Truex, who ran third at both Las Vegas and Richmond in the first two races of the Round of 16.
“Came so close at Charlotte but got spun out just before the finish line. Hopefully, we’ll get that win when we really need it.”
Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) would be good for starters.
DIVERSITY DRIVER RUBEN GARCIA PICKS UP 19TH WIN FOR REV RACING
Mexican driver Ruben Garcia Jr., a member of the 2018 NASCAR Drive for Diversity class, won the rain-delayed K&N Pro Series East season finale at Dover International Speedway on Saturday morning.
Garcia took the checkered flag in the Crosley Brands 125 .483 seconds ahead of Brandon McReynolds to collect the 19th victory for Rev Racing, the competitive arm of the D4D program.
The victory the second of Garcia’s career, the first having come earlier this season at Memphis.
“The first victory outside my country was very, very special, but definitely coming back to Dover and winning was something,” said Garcia, who also is the points leader in the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series.
“I feel like sometimes you enjoy more the second win, because there’s too much going on the first time, and you really don’t appreciate what’s happening.”
Garcia hasn’t solidified his racing plans for next year but said he hopes to compete on a national touring level in 2019.
Driver Carl Edwards, who retired unexpectedly from NASCAR racing after the 2016 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, will be inducted into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame. Edwards will become the 20th member of the hall during an induction ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 3, during AAA 500 Texas Playoff tripleheader weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Edwards picked up his final Cup victory at Texas during the 2016 Playoffs…
Rain forced cancellation of Saturday’s first scheduled Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Dover, but the precipitation abated in time for Happy Hour. Kyle Larson topped the speed chart at 19.011 mph, followed by two drivers eliminated from the Playoffs last Sunday at Charlotte—Denny Hamlin and Eric Jones. Playoff drivers Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott were fourth and fifth fastest, respectively.