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Behind the Wheel: Trip home special for Truex

October 04, 2012, Martin Truex Jr., Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com



Behind the Wheel: Trip home special for Truex

You know, we were five spots away from enjoying the perfect week at Dover. Sixth place isn't too bad and it got us back in the Chase headed to Talladega, where as you know anything can and sometimes does happen.

But let's back up. Dover was special and that's before we even got to the track.

On Wednesday, I went home to Mayetta, N.J., which is about 130 miles from the Dover track. It was a big week for the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation. We got to visit the construction site of the Pediatric Center we're building at the Southern Ocean Medical Center in Stafford Township. The work is coming along. I got to look at the blueprints and toured around the site. My hard hat was pretty cool.


The Martin Truex Jr. Foundation is "hooked on helping" and dedicated to positively impacting the lives of children in need.

That night we held our annual fan event at the Holiday Inn Manahawkin. I got to see a lot of familiar faces and people who've supported me and the Truex family for a long time. It was good to see everyone. That was a really special night for me. Those are the people who helped me get to where I am today.

Thursday was all about fun and raising money. Yeah, those pediatric wings don't build themselves. A lot of people have given generously -- about $1 million -- to make it all happen and Thursday's golf tournament at Sea Oaks Country Club is one of the ways we raised the money. NAPA Auto Parts stepped up big time and sponsored the golf tournament. Seems like they step up every time I ask them and I can't tell you how appreciative I am of all their support. I have the best sponsor in the sport.

After the foundation work, it was time to head to the race track. I just love going to Dover for so many reasons. Obviously, winning here a few years ago and all the success in the Nationwide car and really kind of getting my Nationwide Series career started here years ago. I knew it was going to be a big weekend for us. We really haven't started the Chase off the way we wanted to and this was going to be a good place for us to come and turn it around and get back on the right track.

It was also a big weekend for one of my sponsors, AAA. Not only were they on the MWR Toyotas at Dover, but they sponsored Sunday's race.

They brought Brian Dawkins from the [Philadelphia] Eagles to the race to team up with us and serve as the grand marshal for the AAA 400. I even had my race helmet designed to show my support for him, AAA and the Philadelphia Eagles. We even surprised him by putting his name on my NAPA Auto Parts Toyota and recognized him as one of my honorary pit-crew members for the race. It was pretty darn cool to hear him give an impressive command to start the engines and, after the race, I went to the Eagles/Giants game to see his jersey retired. It was pretty special and I am glad that I can now call him a friend. He is so cool and so humble and his passion for football is unmatched.

When you look at our numbers at Dover, we started third and finished sixth. It sounds pretty simple, but there was a lot more to it than that. I am not sure what happened at the start of the race. We went all the way back to 14th place. Our NAPA Toyota was really, really tight. Once we made our first pit stop, we went back to being really, really fast. We got caught by the Lap 70 caution like most of the field. We found ourselves two laps down. We battled back and never gave up. We raced back onto the lead lap with 85 laps to go. I never thought I would ever say this, but I really wished the race was longer. We had a really fast car. It was very capable of winning. We simply ran out of time.

Like I said, it would have been the perfect week if we had gained five more spots. Our top-10 finish moved us up two spots in the standings to eighth, but we lost some ground to the leaders. We are now 42 points out. It just shows you how tough it is to win this year's Chase.

But anything can happen. Talladega is next and it really is the wild card of all the Chase races. I think the points race will be interesting after Talladega.

I say that because I honestly don't know what to expect come Sunday. All of us in the Chase are going to take a car that we think is fast and capable of winning. After that, it is simply a crapshoot. MWR has had pretty good cars and led laps. Our finishes haven't been all that impressive. We either have been caught up in a crash or have made a run at the end a little too soon and lost steam. In my opinion, it is time for us to get a good finish in the books. I love racing there. I've even won there in the Nationwide Series. Anything can happen. I have seen it all and I've been in it all. I've been wrecked going for the lead. I've been wrecked riding in the back in 30th trying to stay out of trouble. In my opinion, I think the best strategy is to run up front and hope it all happens behind you. I believe that is what I am going to do this weekend and let's see if Talladega can be the perfect weekend!

Behind the Wheel with Martin Truex Jr. runs once a month on NASCAR.COM as he shares his experiences throughout the season, both at and away from the track. Follow him on Twitter at @MartinTruexJr56. The opinions expressed are solely those of Truex.