Of the four drivers in contention Sunday at the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami, Martin Truex, Jr. is the only one without a championship, but with his consistency in 2017, many are considering him the favorite for the 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series champion.
With the consistent season he’s had, Truex says he’s been waiting for the Homestead championship weekend since 2017.
“Honestly, since that day, we’ve been—since that race was over, it was like, alright, from there, we’ve been working since to get back here and have another shot at it,” Truex said.
Looking back on the 2017 season, the no. 78 driver said the Las Vegas win early in the season was a huge deal for the Furniture Row Racing team
“I felt like was a huge deal for us,” Truex said.
“We’d never won early in the season before, and to get that out of the way and just know that we can just push and try to go out and just win races from there was a big relief, and it was a big confidence booster for us early in the season so we could kind of just work off of that and build on that success.”
After that, the other big point in the season was the win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“To start that race—and I think we struggled to even run in the top ten—and to come back and battle through that race and end up winning was huge, I think, for all of our confidence that we could get through anything,” Truex said.
“We didn’t need to start the race with the best car. We didn’t need to be perfect all weekend long. We could make it happen throughout the race, and that was a big one.”
Reduction of Tires at Homestead
At the beginning of the year, NASCAR announced they were reducing the number of sets of tires for races, including the championship race. Truex said that he would leave that strategy up to his crew chief, Cole Pearn.
“It’s certainly not the best situation because Homestead is hard on tires, and I feel like, if we run ten laps, probably six laps, everybody’s going to want to put tires on,” Truex said.
“Like if you run six laps and you get a caution, it’s going to be like, oh, crap, do we put them on now, or do we save a set? It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a big challenge. Just depending on how the cautions fall. If we get a bunch of long runs the first 300 miles of the race, it won’t be a big deal. We’ll just have to see how it plays out.”
Coming into Homestead the Favorite
Truex is considered the favorite of the four in contention Sunday, but Truex said that expectation doesn’t affect the race weekend.
“I think our focus is to come in here and do the best job we can do,” the FRR driver said.
“I feel like the team’s done a great job preparing. I feel like we’re in a lot better spot, obviously, than last time.”
He said that being the favorite is great from the standpoint of feeling like they’re in a better position than two years ago, but said they all still need to execute.
“You’ve still got to bring the right stuff,” he said.
“You’ve got to be fast. You’ve got to make the right decisions. It’s a good position to be in, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. So it is what it is.”
The final qualifying session of the MENCS 2017 season will be tonight at 6:15, and will be broadcast on NBCSN. The 267 laps/400.5 mile Ford EcoBoost 400 will be broadcast NBC at 3pm on Sunday.
View the entire Homestead Miami race weekend on NASCAR.com