DOVER, Del.—Rainy days and Mondays might get some people down, but not Martin Truex Jr.
The Mayetta, N.J., driver won his first-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race in the last rain-delayed event at Dover International Speedway on Monday, June 4, 2007.
Truex will attempt to win race No. 21 when the race starts at noon Monday, but after two pre-race inspection failures, the No. 19 SiriusXM Toyota will have to start from the rear of the field.
“It’s going to be tough,” Truex said. “We couldn’t have picked a worse place to start in the back, for sure. It’s going to be difficult because generally, this is the toughest place to pass there is because it’s so fast through the center of the corner. And now we’re faster than we’ve ever been.
“So, it’s going to be difficult, for sure. But if we’re good on long runs, we can make it happen.”
Truex’s second Dover win came nine years after his first. In the last three seasons, Truex's average finish is sixth at the Monster Mile. With a new car and insane speeds with this package, Truex knows he’ll have to be aggressive—particularly starting from the back.
“Nobody is going to slow down,” Truex said. “Everyone is going to go as fast as they can. This series is tough. In order to be up front, you have to push. With that being said, we are going to learn a lot. Traffic was pretty tough out there (on Saturday). You catch a guy and it would slow you down a ton, so it is just going to be a lot about managing where you are running on the race track trying to keep some kind of clean air on your car. Find a place to run where the guy in front of you isn’t.
“That's the difficult thing about racing here at Dover. It's going to be a tough race for sure. Hopefully, our car stays good and we can get it even a little better and we can go and have some fun.”
During Happy Hour, Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn concentrated on improving the balance on the No. 19 Camry. Dover is one of the most difficult tracks for teams to set up the car, with transitions jumping from nine degrees of banking on the straights to 24 degrees in the corners. Passing will also be a challenge, and an ill-handling car can make for a long day.
“It has always been a tough place to get the balance right,” Truex said. “That's why you see guys here that just blister the field, and that's why sometimes even good cars just miss it. We knew it was going to be hard to pass and you were going to have to find some air somehow. We’ll have to wait and see, but it’s going to be tough, though.
“Dover is very, very unforgiving to setups to cars that don’t handle as well, to guys that maybe don’t like it--things like that. It's a very sensitive race track. You have to attack, but you have to attack with finesse. It is a lot of fun.”
With two wins in both the Cup and Xfinity Series at Dover, Truex’s confidence is high—just maybe as high as 11-time victor Jimmie Johnson, who joked he could win on three wheels at Dover.
“I have that level of confidence at a lot of places,” Truex said with a smile. “But I don’t think I could win anywhere on three wheels, and I don’t think he could either. He’s pretty good. He’s really, really good and I can see him saying that. I have a lot of confidence in the tracks we go to, but you definitely need four wheels.”
The driver has a busy month ahead of him with the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation hosting the 10th Annual Catwalk for a Cause to benefit childhood cancer and associated initiatives. The event, scheduled for May 15 in a private hangar at Statesville (N.C) Regional Airport, will feature a fashion show with Catwalk Heroes—children currently in treatment or remission from cancer along with NASCAR drivers and spouses—musical entertainment, silent and live auctions and an after-party concert headlined by 2016 Country Music Awards New Artist of the Year winner Cole Swindell.
After Truex and his long-time partner Sherry Pollex helped raise more than $600,000 in 2018, he hopes the 10th Anniversary of the Catwalk for a Cause will mark their biggest fundraiser to date.
“That’s the goal,” Truex said. “Every year we try to step it up and raise more money, make the show better so everyone wants to keep coming back. So far, it has been working. Everyone is fired up. Everybody has been working hard to get ready. We have a lot of great sponsors on the table and doing all those things.
“We had a pizza party for the kids a few weeks ago, and they’re all excited. So, it should be a big night. Looking forward to it.”