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Truex looking to maintain momentum at Watkins Glen

August 11, 2012, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com



Truex looking to maintain momentum at Watkins Glen

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- The first name to pop into the minds of folks thinking about accomplished road-course racers would not be Martin Truex Jr.

But Truex may be getting closer to changing that, much the same way he's helping change the perception of his No. 56 Toyota team overall this season. Even though he has yet to win a race, Truex is a solid fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings heading into this Sunday's Finger Lakes 355 At The Glen -- and he showed he knows how to get around the 2.45-mile road course quickly in Saturday's one and only practice.

"I really enjoy the road-course racing, especially here at Watkins Glen. This is a place that is pretty special to me."

--MARTIN TRUEX JR.


Watkins Glen

Happy Hour Speeds
Pos.DriverSpeedTime
2. J. Montoya127.446 69.206
3.C. Edwards 127.412 69.224
4. M. Ambrose 127.163 69.360
5. M. Truex 127.095 69.397

"I really enjoy the road-course racing, especially here at Watkins Glen," Truex said. "This is a place that is pretty special to me. I remember coming up here as a kid, watching my dad race, and then running some Busch North races up here. It's one of the tracks that is kind of special to me, like New Hampshire and Dover."

Truex turned a top lap of 127.095 mph that was fifth-fastest in Saturday's early morning Happy Hour -- an addition to the weekend Cup schedule because rain washed out the first scheduled practice a day earlier. The only four drivers to post faster laps than Truex were Kyle Busch (127.458 mph), Juan Montoya (127.446 mph), Carl Edwards (127.412 mph) and defending race champion Marcos Ambrose (127.163 mph).

Truex is attempting to build on the momentum his team gained while finishing eighth and third in the past two races at Indianapolis and Pocono, respectively. He also finished eighth at Kentucky and 11th at New Hampshire, giving him four finishes of 11th or better in the past five races.

He credited the overall improvement of Michael Waltrip Racing, which also includes driver Clint Bowyer in the No. 15 Toyota and an assortment of drivers, primarily Mark Martin and Brian Vickers, in the No. 55 Toyota. Vickers is driving the No. 55 this weekend.

Like Truex, Bowyer is in solid position to make the Chase. With five races remaining before the Chase field is set, Bowyer currently is 10th in points with one victory on the season.

"This year has just felt different," said Truex, who has never finished higher than 11th in the points and was 18th last year. "The communication has been so great inside the team, not only with my team and with [crew chief] Chad [Johnston] and all of the guys in the NAPA [-sponsored] car, but all three of our teams at Michael Waltrip Racing.

"I feel like all of us have been really engaged in the program and that's a big reason for why we have two cars in the Chase and could possibly have three if Mark would've drove full time. It's been a lot of fun to do it and it's been a pleasure to work with everybody. I'm just fortunate to be in this position."

As he has stated repeatedly this season, Truex intends to remain with MWR for the long haul. He has been working with team owners Michael Waltrip and Rob Kauffman on a contract extension and reiterated that he is very close to coming to terms.

"We're very, very close," Truex said. "I'm not going to say it's done, but it's basically done. I'm very, very happy about that. I guess, it's one of those deals where we had to work out some details, but when going through contract negotiations again there was never a time, never a thought of me saying what are my options, what am I thinking? There was none of that. It was how can we get this deal done and move forward.

"We've come a long way. When you put that much work into something, you don't want to just say, 'Ah, I can do this somewhere else,' because it's not that easy. I've put a lot of effort into being part of this team, to help them build a program. And they've invested a lot into me to be a part of that program. ... It's been a very easy process and we've really concentrated on racing and just kind of tried to do this on the side to get it done. It's been a pleasure to work with all those guys throughout not only this, but throughout the past three years and I'm looking forward to doing that for a long time to come."