By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Martin Truex Jr. has had a good start to the 2016 season, but he is still seeking his first win of the year as the Sprint Cup Series invades Texas Motor Speedway. Truex led the first practice session of the weekend at the 1.5-mile speedway, and in his media availability he said that expects a great race this weekend with NASCAR’s new lower downforce package.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s similar to what we’ve seen in Atlanta and California,” Truex explained. “The tires really wear out on the long run and the pace gets really slow and you get moving around searching for grip and all over the place. It’s my favorite kind of racing to do and I think it’s going to be a really good one.”
The Duck Commander 500 is set for Saturday night, and in a different twist from races of late, it will actually feature a practice session Friday afternoon. Truex weighed in on the later practice session.
“It’s going to be good to actually have a night practice, or an evening practice for a night race which is something that we don’t normally have. That’s a good change,” Truex said. “The schedule is kind of odd, coming in for one practice today and then qualifying in the morning and then switch the car over after qualifying is going to be a big chore because we’re not going to have a lot of time. It’s going to be tough on the crews, but having the practice later, after XFINITY cars practice and having the rubber on the race track is going to help us – all the teams on the Cup side to have a good idea of what the track will be like at night. Typically a lot of our night races we practice in the heat of the day and just really have to take a guess to setup for the night time. It will be interesting to see how that changes things.”
In the offseason, the Furniture Row Racing team swapped from Chevrolet to Toyota, and many expected the team to falter early on in the transition. However, after six races Truex sits 11th in the standings. Truex talked about his team and how they’re faring after the manufacturer swap.
“I feel really good about where we’re at. Obviously there were a lot of changes during the offseason going to Toyota and starting to work with JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), using their chassis and things like that. We’ve had a lot of new things to figure out and I’ve been really pleased with the speed we’ve had, the job the team has done and feel like we’ve done a good job at those things,” said Truex.
Truex would go on to say that although he is happy with his car’s speed, he is unhappy that his team has not finished as high week-in and week-out as they should have due to “hiccups” along the way. Texas should provide Truex and the No. 78 team a spark this weekend. Truex has more top-10 finishes in his career at Texas (10) than any other circuit in the Sprint Cup Series.
Truex finished a personal best of second here back in 2013, and he finished top-10 in both events at this racetrack last season. Expect Truex, who was fast Thursday, to continue being strong all weekend long.
Image: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images