Thoughts of winning at Martinsville buoyed Truex’s spirits after Talladega

Martin Truex Jr. (Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr. (Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr. (Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – After a blown engine knocked him out of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup last Sunday at Talladega, the one thought that kept Martin Truex Jr. from wallowing in despair was the prospect of winning Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway (1 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

“As soon as we got together in the garage in Talladega – I literally pulled in there, got out and we all got together and said, ‘Let’s go win Martinsville; what do we have to do to win Martinsville?’” an emotional Truex said on Friday afternoon after winning the pole for Sunday’s race. “I think our attitude just instantly changed to, ‘OK, we’re out of it; there’s nothing we can do about it now. Let’s not focus on this or rip us apart or pull us down or hold us back.’

“It’s not easy to do, so I’m really proud of our guys, road guys and guys at the shop – they put a lot of effort into this car, it’s brand new, to try to come here and be better than we were in the spring.”

Truex won twice in the Chase’s Round of 16 and looked like a solid pick to advance from the Round of 12 after winning the pole at Talladega. But the blown engine upended his entire season.

“I think that’s the most disappointing part for us is that we’ve probably been the strongest team all year long,” said Truex, who has recorded four of his seven career victories this season. “The flip side from that is that we haven’t been as consistent as we needed to be, and I think we understand that as well. Going forward, that will be something we focus on…

“As bad as it hurts that we’re not in the Chase anymore, and we aren’t going to win our first championship, we want to go out on a high note, we want to go out with momentum, and we want to go out with a lot of confidence for next year.”