To be quite honest, at the midway point of the season I never expected to see the outright dominance that has come from Furniture Row’s Martin Truex Jr. He is not only the best Toyota on the track, he’s flat out the best car on the track.
He’s got the most stage points of any driver, he’s also got the most playoff points of any driver, and his team is putting out better cars than anyone.
For a team that is based in Colorado, unlike many of the others that are in the North Carolina area, that is impressive.
What is most impressive is this statistic: if the NASCAR Playoffs were to start tomorrow, the lead Truex would have on his closest competitor would be more than what a driver would earn at the conclusion of a race. He could skip a race in the Playoffs to start the title run and still come away with the lead.
For a guy who a few years ago was at the unfortunate end of a controversy in order to get him in the Chase, now the Playoffs, it’s quite the turnaround. He lost sponsorship, then his ride, and almost had to reform himself into a different driver with a new team, a single-car operation, and find if he really had what it took to compete with some of the bigger organizations.
Not only is he competing, he’s beating them.
Toyota now has a new front-running operation, and it’s not exclusively based with Joe Gibbs Racing. Sure, the Furniture Row team gets cars, equipment, and team members from JGR, but they are located on the opposite side of the country, and are doing this top quality work every week.
This past weekend he once again swept every stage of the race in Kentucky, not only winning all stages, but leading the most laps.
I am going on record saying that this team isn’t an underdog to win the title anymore. This team is a favorite, and could keep Jimmie Johnson from breaking the record of seven titles.
I’m convinced, Truex is going to be a player for years to come.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.
STAGE 2 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.
RESULTS: 1-Truex Jr. 2-Larson 3-Elliott 4-Hamlin 5-Kyle Busch 6-Jones 7-McMurray 8-Logano 9-Harvick 10-Blaney
NOTABLE FINISHES: 12-Earnhardt Jr. 14-Stenhouse Jr. 19-Dillon 22-Newman 30-Kurt Busch 39-Keselowski 40-Johnson
CAUTIONS: 9 for 39 laps. 32-35 (Competition caution); 82-87 (Stage 1 Conclusion); 89-92 (#2, 14, 48 Incident-T3); 95-99 (#5 and 6 Incident-T2); 113-116 (#6 Spin-T4); 138-141 (#23 Incident-T1); 162-166 (Stage 2 conclusion); 267-272 (Fluid on track from #41); 274-274 (#3, 19, 20, 43 Incident-BS).
LEAD CHANGES: 9 among 4 drivers. Kyle Busch 1-28; M. Truex Jr. 29; Kyle Busch 30-67; M. Truex Jr. 68-87; Kyle Busch 88-133; M. Truex Jr. 134-163; J. Logano 164-170; M. Truex Jr. 171-225; D. Earnhardt Jr. 226-228; M. Truex Jr. 229-274.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 57 Mins, 55 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 138.604 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: Under Caution
POINT STANDINGS (Points/Behind Leader [Playoff Points]): 1. Larson, 710 ; 2. Truex Jr, -1 ; 3. Kyle Busch, -101 ; 4. Harvick, -111 ; 5. Elliott, -150 ; 6. McMurray, -165; 7. Hamlin, -172 ; 8. Keselowski, -174 ; 9. Johnson, -191 ; 10. Bowyer, -215; 11. Kenseth, -232 ; 12. Logano, -239 ; 13. Blaney, -248 ; 14. Jones, -284; 15. Kurt Busch, -291 ; 16. Stenhouse Jr, -292 ; 17. Newman, -296 ; 20. Dillon, -369 .