NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr.’s Season Looks Similar To 2015

May 26, 2016; Concord, NC, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (78) captures the pole during qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
May 26, 2016; Concord, NC, USA; Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (78) captures the pole during qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

As one of NASCAR’s fan favorites, Martin Truex Jr. is putting on a performance very similar to his breakout season in 2015.

Heading into the 2015 season, Martin Truex Jr. had just two wins in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. In 2007, he captured his first victory by winning at Dover and in 2013, he earned an impressive win at Sonoma.

He was coming off of his first year with Furniture Row Racing–a year that he certainly wanted to forget. With just one top-5 and five top-10’s, Truex suffered from the worst full-time season of his career, finishing 24th the driver standings.

2015 set up for a nice rebound as he had been assigned a new crew chief in Cole Pearn. Once the season got rolling, there was an immediate connection between the two, and it showed on the track.

Truex opened up the season with seven-straight top-10 finishes, managing to take the lead for a combined 32 laps. Following a bad outing at Bristol, Truex rebounded with seven more top-10 finishes, but this time, the streak was a little more impressive.

Once he got to Kansas, Truex flipped a switch, and suddenly it was a matter of time before he picked up a win. He led 95 laps at Kansas, 131 at Charlotte, 131 more at Dover and finally 97 at Pocono, where he earned the third win of his career, an emotional win for both him and his girlfriend, Sherry Pollex.

That served as a nice set up for the rest of the 2015 season, where Truex would enter the Chase and make it all the way to the Championship 4, ultimately finishing fourth in the standings and marking the best season of his career to date.

During the offseason, Furniture Row Racing formed an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, basically giving Truex four new teammates and switching his car manufacturer from Chevrolet to Toyota. With JGR and Toyota flexing their muscles in 2015, Truex was set to have an even better 2016 season.

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His next journey started with the Daytona 500, as he wheeled around the track and nearly pulled off a victory, losing the race to Denny Hamlin by 0.01 seconds, the closest finish in the history of the event.

Moving on in the season, Truex would lead 34 laps at Atlanta, 21 laps at Fontana and 141 laps at Texas, all ending without a win. Then, just like in 2015, he flipped a switch and began to dominate, however, the disappointment became more extreme.

At Kansas, he led 172 laps, before a right-front tire issue forced him to make an extra pit stop, leading to a 14th-place finish. At Dover, he led 47 laps, but was caught up in a wreck when Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet failed to shift gears on a restart.

Then finally Truex got a win–and he earned it in dominant fashion. Rolling around the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he went on to lead 392 out of 400 laps and 588 out of 600 miles, giving him a perfect driver rating of 150.0. Truex had, by far, the best car on the track, taking care of business on every restart and zooming out to leads in the five-second range.

In the process of setting NASCAR records, he had the time of his life, offering up a few light-hearted comments on his restart battles with Jimmie Johnson (via

"“I had to give him something for being a good sport,” Truex said with a laugh. “I just wanted to give him a taste of what it might feel like to lead this thing. No, I’m just kidding.”"

This time around, the win was just as special as it was at Pocono, with great joy in the eyes of both him and his girlfriend.

It almost seems as if 2016 has been surprisingly similar to 2015 for Truex. The nice start, the bad luck, the inspiring win. It’s setting Truex and the rest of his team up for another deep run at a title this season.

Truex has been blessed with the opportunity to race in partnership with drivers like Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. Plus, he made the move to Toyota at the absolute best time, as the manufacturer seems to be on the verge of taking over the sport.

The heart that his single-car team shows each and every weekend is something to be proud of. Truex is already in his 11th full-time season, but he’s finally found a situation that’s favorable and that’s why he’s beginning to succeed.

You don’t often see a driver catapult from middle-of-the-pack racing to consistent weekly contention like Truex has been able to do, but the rise of his team and his work ethic for his passions has given him the opportunity to succeed in NASCAR’s premier series.

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If 2015 was any preview of how Truex’s 2016 season will go, he’s set to go to battle and impress again in the Chase.

I believe Martin Truex Jr. will pick up at least one more win this season. Since Red Byron won the first championship in 1949, there’s only been two other drivers to win it all with five career wins or less, Bill Rexford (1) in 1950 and Alan Kulwicki (5) in 1992. With momentum spreading throughout the No. 78 team, there’s no doubt Truex could go the distance and cap off what would be an astonishing season.