NASCAR’s Truex can’t catch a break with new Sprint Cup team

04/16/2014 2:01 PM

04/17/2014 12:29 AM

NASCAR Sprint Cup veteran Martin Truex Jr. issued a warning to a Goodyear official during a tire test Tuesday at Kansas Speedway.

“I told him I was only going to go three laps at a time because I’m tired of blowing out tires,” Truex said, only half-kiddingly.

It’s been that kind of season for the snake-bitten Truex.

Truex hooked on with the single-car, No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet team for 2014 after losing his ride in the No. 56 Toyota when NAPA pulled its sponsorship in the wake of the Michael Waltrip Racing scandal last fall.

Beginning with a last-place finish in the Daytona 500 because of a blown engine in a backup car, little has gone right for Truex this year. His best finish in eight races was 14th at Las Vegas, and he’s a distant 28th in the points standings.

“It’s been one of those crazy seasons,” Truex said during a break while testing in preparation for the May 10 Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway.

“The car’s been fast. We’ve had speed. But we’ve had everything bad you can imagine happen to us.

“The other night (at Darlington) I blew a tire for no reason at all when we were running good … at California we wrecked in practice because we blew a tire, and we had a backup car that was really fast in the race, and after 23 laps I hit a piece of debris that absolutely destroyed the nose of the car.

“One of these days I’m waiting for a meteor to come out of the sky and hit the car.”

But in the new win-and-you’re-in Chase for the Sprint Cup format, a driver is still in contention through the first 26 races, and Truex looked for answers during the test at Kansas Speedway, where he finished second in both races in 2012 and fourth in the spring race last year.

A year ago, Truex would have qualified for the Chase, but a 50-point team-wide penalty to Michael Waltrip Racing knocked him out of the wild-card spot.

He then replaced Kurt Busch with Denver-based Furniture Row after Busch signed with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Busch and Furniture Row became the first single-car team to make the Chase in 2013, but so far Truex hasn’t recaptured the karma with his new team.

“The team has done a great job,” said Truex, 33. “They’re keeping their heads up. They’re building fast race cars. I feel like we’re getting better each week, even though the results aren’t showing. We’re learning about each other, so if we keep working, we can squeak out a win somewhere and get in the Chase.

“There is definitely more of an opportunity to take a bad start and still have a great season with the new points system. If we can get a win, you definitely forget about the bad start.

“It’s good to know one good weekend, one great weekend can really turn your season around, and that’s pretty cool.”

Truex has had some pretty good weekends at Kansas Speedway.

In the 2012 spring race, he led 173 laps only to finish second to Denny Hamlin. Truex didn’t lead a lap but finished second to Matt Kenseth in the 2012 fall race, the first one after Kansas Speedway was repaved and reconfigured. And he led 46 laps before finishing fourth in the 2013 spring race.

“We’ve had great runs here over the years,” Truex said. “I’ve always enjoyed the race track. I feel like we’ve always been fast here for some reason. There’s something about this track that fits my style.

“Hopefully we’ll shake the bad luck before we get back here. But if not, hopefully when we get back here, this will be the place we do it.”

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