Truex officially clinches place in final four at Homestead

Russell LaBounty/NKPPhoto

By Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

After months of downplaying being a lock into the championship four at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. can officially say after the AAA Texas 500 that he will contend for a championship in two weeks.

The idea that Truex was an automatic lock into the championship picture at Homestead began in the month of June after he collected numerous stage wins. At Kansas Speedway, Truex alluded to the fact that anything could happen in the “Round of 8” after Kyle Larson failed to advance into this round after engine issues.

The 2017 season for Martin Truex Jr. and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota team has been short of perfection. They have collected seven wins, 17 top-fives, and 24 top-10’s. He has collected 19 stage wins. He has an average start of seventh and an average finish of 9.9.

Truex was less than 10 laps from clinching his eighth victory of 2017, but was passed by Kevin Harvick to finish in the second position.

“It’s unbelievable, awesome season and can’t thank everybody enough – Bass Pro Shops, Toyota, TRD, Furniture Row, Denver Mattress. It was hot out there today. Just everybody and all our partners. Everybody that helps us, we couldn’t do it without them, it’s been an amazing season and I love this team. We’re excited for Homestead, we had a great test down there and looking forward to going down there and getting another win.”

After the AAA Texas 500, Truex sits 79 points above fifth place driver, Denny Hamlin. Truex would rather have locked the championship by being in victory lane instead of finishing second.

“It feels great. It feels amazing – that’s what we set out to do this year was to make it to Homestead and fight for the title and we feel like we’re right there. I just can’t wait to get there and get back to work. I wish we could have won today, it would have been a little sweeter going and locking it up in victory lane, but we were off a little bit there at the end.”

Being able to compete for a championship is a dream come true for Furniture Row Racing and Truex after being deemed the little team that could for a couple of years.

“It’s a dream come true after last year’s disappointment, coming into this year with that as our focus and working so hard all year long. Just the fight in this team, we never quit and we never give up. To win seven races, it’s been an amazing season. When you get two seconds in a row and you’re disappointed, it says something about your team and your confidence in them. Just can’t thank everyone enough for their support throughout the years. I’m really excited to go to Homestead and I think we’ll have something for them.”

With Homestead coming, Truex is looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to “test” for de facto teammate, Hamlin, at Phoenix.

“Homestead is a completely different animal.  Excited to go there.  I think next week maybe I’ll just go test at Phoenix for Denny.”

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