LONG POND, Pa. – Martin Truex Jr. is enjoying life at the top of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pyramid.
He’s the series leader in points. Entering Sunday’s Overton’s 400 at Pocono Raceway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN), he’s tied for the series lead in victories with three. And he’s the runaway leader in playoff points with 29, a whopping 14 coming from stage wins.
Truex is at the top of his game, with a team that’s a perfect fit for his personality and driving style. Just don’t forget that it took him 10 years to get there.
That’s why Truex’s younger brother Ryan, who is racing in Saturday’s Overton’s 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event, isn’t overly concerned with the state of his career.
Ryan Truex is seven years into a NASCAR journey that has taken him from the K&N Pro Series to sporadic starts in all three of the sanctioning body’s top touring series. This year is the first time, however, that Truex has enjoyed a full-time ride with an established team and a solid, consistent crew.
“Honestly, it’s motivation more than anything,” Ryan said of his brother’s success with Furniture Row Racing. “Just to see everything he’s gone through. When he came into this sport, it kind of seemed like it all came pretty easily for him. In the Xfinity Series and up to the (Monster Energy NASCAR) Cup Series, he was just able to progress really quickly and run really well.
“Then he started to struggle in the later DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc.) days, when it transitioned to Earnhardt Ganassi. Then, when he went to MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) with (sponsor) NAPA, things were starting to look up. He finally won that race (at Sonoma in 2013) that got the monkey off his back and made the Chase.”
But the roller coaster ride was far from over. When MWR was penalized for manipulating the outcome of the 2013 regular-season finale at Richmond, Truex lost his spot in the playoff and NAPA left the organization, leaving Truex without a job.
“He didn’t know if he’d even have a ride after that year,” said Ryan, who at 25 is 12 years younger than his brother. “But, honestly, it might be the best thing that ever happened to him, because he went to Furniture Row…
“Seeing all that, it’s taken him 10 years to get all that stuff lined up, for the stars to all align. So when I look at my career and how I’ve kind of jumped around – starting my career, I kind of moved up really quick – and kind of hit the Xfinity Series at the wrong time.”
Ryan was 18 when he ran seven Xfinity races for MWR in 2010. Racing for team owner Shigeaki Hattori this season, he’s currently eighth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, fighting for one of eight available spots in the playoffs.
“I’ve been racing in NASCAR for seven years, and I’m finally full-time,” Ryan said. “Seeing him (Martin) go through that and finally, 10 years later, getting what he needed to go out and be a contender for a championship, it motivates me and keeps me comfortable in knowing that I’ve got time.”