By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Martin Truex Jr. has had a heck of a start to the 2016 season. He finished second in the Daytona 500 by a whisker, and in Atlanta last week he finished seventh after leading 34 laps.
Truex, and Furniture Row Racing’s fast start this season has taken some by surprise, as many expected the team to struggle out of the gates after changing manufacturers in the offseason from Chevrolet to Toyota. In a media availability Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Truex indicated he didn’t expect a slow start to the season.
“We’ve got an awesome team. I can’t say enough about them and what they do and what they’ve done this offseason to prepare. We just click. We have a really good chemistry,” Truex explained. “Yesterday was an example with the test. We unloaded with stuff we’ve never run before, weren’t that good off the trailer and just continued to work on it all day long. By the end of the day, I felt like we were the best car. Just a lot of smart people making good decisions.”
When asked how much changed with the offseason manufacturer swap Truex said, “There’s a lot of differences from little things – like the feel of the car, the approach that the guys at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) have on their front ends and steering ratios and those different things. You’re learning all that. The fuel mapping, the digital dash is new and the low downforce – so there’s a lot of new things that I’ve kind of had to adapt to quickly. I still don’t know exactly where the switches are on the dash and I have to look at it. It’s little things like that that take some getting used to.”
Despite the quick start to the season, Truex and his team were docked 15 points this week, and pending an appeal they will likely lose crew chief Cole Pearn for a race, after having issues with a roof flap in the inspection process two weeks in a row.
Truex talked about the penalty, and what he thought it would mean for his team.
“If [the suspension] were six races, I would say [it would affect momentum]. Being that it’s one, I don’t think we’ll miss a step,” Truex said. “We have a lot of good people we can plug in to call the race and obviously Cole (Pearn, crew chief) will be a huge part of getting our car to the race track the way he wants it and helping us get through the weekend setup-wise and making decisions. I don’t really see it being a big issue. I wish it didn’t have to happen, but it’s part of it.”
We will have to wait and see if the distractions of the penalty story will cause the Furniture Row Racing team to lose some steam in Vegas.
Image: Waylon Oakes / Drafting the Circuits