NASCAR: Truex needed longer run to secure win, title
By Kelly Crandall | RACER.com NASCAR correspondent
Martin Truex Jr. called the last five years with Furniture Row Racing the “best time of my life” after running the team’s final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I don’t know what else to say,” Truex said. “Those guys have been amazing. They’ve made me a superstar in NASCAR. I’m just very thankful for them all.”
The defending series champion closed out the organization’s NASCAR Cup Series tenure by finishing second in the race and the championship to Joey Logano. Truex grabbed the lead off the final restart with 15 laps to go, only to be passed by Logano with 12 laps to go. In order to win his second consecutive championship, Truex radioed that he needed more time, as his No. 78 Toyota showed over the course of the race that it was better suited for a long run.
MORE NASCAR ON RACER.COM
“We had it. We just couldn’t go over 15 laps,” Truex said. “I knew that last restart was going to be tough. We were able to get the lead, I just couldn’t do anything. I was just slow for 15 laps. We turned and I’d try to go as fast as those guys and I’d be dead sideways and I just I couldn’t do it. I don’t know what else I could’ve done. He passed me so fast I didn’t even get a chance to do anything. We needed more laps. We just needed more time.
“Proud of my guys and proud of everybody. Thanks [Bass Pro Shops owner] Johnny [Morris] and Bass Pro and Auto-Owners and 5-Hour, TRD, Toyota, everybody here helped us the past few seasons. Not the way we wanted to go out, but hell of an effort.”
Based on the lack of cautions, Pearn thought the race was set up for a long run that would have worked to the team’s advantage.
“It just didn’t shake out the way we needed to,” said crew chief Cole Pearn. “We were really good on the long run and I thought before that yellow [on lap 248, we] had ‘em, we were going to get it no question. The 22 [Logano] was great on the short run all day and really all weekend and it shook out that way. For 10, 12 laps they were better than us all day and then we’d start coming back on them and eventually get them on the long run. It’s just the way it played out.
“Last year we had the good short run and we got the late caution and it worked out for our favor. Just an unbelievable effort from everybody.”
Truex said he wasn’t yet sure what it meant to climb out of the 78 for the last time.
“I don’t know. I’m going to miss these guys,” he said. “Wish we could’ve won it.”
In five season together, Truex & Co. won 17 races, earned 56 top-five and 91 top-10 finishes, grabbed 12 poles, led 5,646 laps and appeared in the Championship 4 three times in the five years since the winner-take-all format was established.
As a company, Furniture Row had eight different drivers come through its doors and won a title with Truex. In total, FRR ran 451 Cup Series races in 14 years.
“Just really proud of the effort,” said Pearn. “For everybody and their brother writing us off and wanting to close us out of it all along, and then we come here and have the best long run car and two of the best cars [in two years] to have a shot to win the championship, it’s just proving everybody wrong like we have all along since we’ve been out there. If that’s the way the 78 got to go out, I’m proud of that.”
FOR MORE RACING NEWS AND ANALYSIS VISIT RACER.COM