June 23, 2009

Island in the Storm: Martin Truex Jr.

There are horses for courses and one of Martin Truex Jr.'s favorite tracks is New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Located in his backyard, Truex turned a lot of laps on this track in the NASCAR Busch North Series (now named the Camping World East Series), but he didn't have huge success until the last two years. Once he found the groove, however, he's been great.

In the Camping World East series, he won the 2003 New England 125 from the pole and took the 2005 Nationwide New England 200 after starting seventh. But on the heels of that, his rookie season in the Cup series was tough. In 2006, Truex finished outside the top 15 in both events. With an 18th in July and a 22nd in September, however, he gave the team a good set of notes from which to work.

They applied the lessons learned as a freshman and Truex swept the top five in his sophomore season. When he finished third in the July race, he had a ton of momentum on his side. He had recently won at Dover and was riding a three-race top-five streak. Earning a fourth such finish was seemingly easy, but it hasn't been quite so effortless since.

He's entered this race with progressively poorer results. In fall of that same year, Truex had just finished 15th at Richmond International Raceway the week before. Prior to the July 2008 race, he struggled through three consecutive finishes outside the top 15 and that fall, he was riding a four-race streak of sub-15th-place finishes. He managed to stop the bleeding at New Hampshire each time, finishing fifth in fall 2007, fourth in July 2008 and finally seventh last year.

That gives him an active four-race top-10 streak and only one other driver can claim as much. All eyes will be on the other racer Jimmie Johnson this week, which leaves you with an excellent opportunity to sneak up on the competition.

This will be his biggest challenge yet. Since he finished sixth in the Southern 500, Truex has been struggling. This year, he'll pull into New Hampshire with a five-race streak of finishes outside the top 15, but this is his safe harbor, his "Island in the Storm"—at least in recent years—and he is a dark horse to finish inside the top five.

Martin Truex Jr. at New Hampshire

Race DateSeriesFinStart
13-Sep-03CW East1511
19-Jul-03CW East11
14-Sep-02CW East2820
20-Jul-02CW East411
11-May-02CW East318

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