By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — If you told Martin Truex Jr. before the year started that he would rack up four wins and lead over 1,800 laps over the course of the 2016 season, I’m sure he would have taken that in a heart beat. Truex has racked up those exact numbers, which equal career-bests, yet he is still left bummed out.
The Mayetta, New Jersey native has reason to be dejected as he looked to be the favorite for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, that is until a blown motor at Talladega foiled his hopes at his first title.
“It’s been a great season. It’s unfortunate that we aren’t racing for the championship,” Truex told Motorsports Tribune Friday at Homestead.
Even with the disappointment of being eliminated from the Chase after putting together his greatest season to date, Truex is entering one of his favorite tracks on the schedule — Homestead-Miami Speedway — and he would like nothing more than to play a spoiler to those who remain inside the championship four.
“Man we’ve got a hot rod,” an elated Truex exclaimed. “I’m excited about the weekend. I love coming here to Homestead-Miami. It’s a great race track. Hopefully we’ll get that win here this year. It’s been a good [track] for me. I’ve run well here in my career. I’ve been close, led a lot of laps. It’s kind of like this year when we went to Darlington, I told the guys, ‘Man, we’re so close here. This is the year, I really want to win it,’ so I’ve got the same feeling here at Homestead one of my favorite tracks and hopefully we’ll get it done this weekend.”
Truex has plenty of reason to love the 1.5-mile oval in South Beach, Florida as his average finish at this track (10.2) is better than his average finish at any other track on the Sprint Cup circuit. In 11-career starts at this speedway, the driver of the No. 78 Toyota Camry has recorded an impressive seven top-10 finishes.
So far this weekend, Truex has picked right up where his stats suggest he should be. In the opening practice session of the weekend on Friday, Truex was second-fastest by a mere 0.006 of a second. to Ryan Newman. Later in the afternoon, the 36-year-old veteran nabbed the sixth-place starting position for Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400.
Expect Truex to go for broke Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in an effort to put an exclamation point on an already sterling season.