Martin Truex Jr. makes nostalgic return to native New Jersey

FONTANA, CA - MARCH 16: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 16, 2018 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

 Martin Truex Jr. is just glad he’s not in the same boat—literally.

That’s not to say a trip to his New Jersey home—and a visit to Atlantic City and the clam boat he worked during his youth—didn’t produce some pangs of nostalgia for the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion.

But Truex has come light years since his early days harvesting clams for his family business.

“It was very nostalgic, and that particular boat is very special to my dad, because it was his actual first boat he ever built,” Truex said after Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Pocono Raceway on Friday. “It’s just a cool story, his first boat, I got to work on it. It’s still in service, still working each and every day.

“But just to go in there and to look at it and just feel the memories of what it was like, how much time I spent on there, how much I didn’t like it, and then just so many things haven’t changed in that business. That boat is the same. It looks identical. There’s so many things in it that are still the same, and it just reminded me of how fast time really goes by, because it felt like just yesterday I was out there working on that thing. It’s crazy.”

Truex left New Jersey with some new memories, too. In Trenton, the state capital, Gov. Phil Murphy declared May 31 Martin Truex Jr. day. And on Friday, Truex was recognized as national driver of the year by the Eastern Motorsports Press Association.

“(Thursday) was a big day,” Truex said. “It was fun to go home, to go to the state capital and meet the governor and get the proclamation that yesterday was MTJ Day in New Jersey. That’s just crazy to think about. It’s crazy to think about things like that, where we’ve come to in such a short amount of time.

“It feels like just yesterday I was living up there working, building race cars and racing for fun and thinking, yeah, ‘Maybe someday somebody will hire me to drive for them.’ And here we are not that much further down the road with a championship and all the things that have come along with it.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.