When Martin Truex Jr. gets asked about Watkins Glen International he lights up with a can’t-wait-to-get-there anticipation.
The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet has many reasons to feel upbeat about the 2.45-mile circuit located in central New York, and site of Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen.
His record in nine career Sprint Cup starts at Watkins Glen includes 100 percent of the laps completed (812 of 812), five top-10 finishes (three in the past four years) and three top-fives.
“I enjoy road racing and like both of the road courses we compete on,” said Truex. “Sonoma and Watkins Glen are two different-style of tracks, the only similarity is that we turn right on both of them. I have had good runs at Watkins Glen but haven’t closed the deal there. It could happen this weekend – I’ve been thinking about this race for a while. I like the area, like the fans and it would be super awesome to win there.”
Truex, who has a road-course win (2013 at Sonoma) and ranks eighth in NASCAR’s driver rating at Watkins Glen, is looking to achieve a couple of redemptions in the 90-lap competition, the second and final road race of the season.
The first is to secure a strong road-course finish after being knocked off the track at the Sonoma race in June and posting a 42nd-place result.
The second is to overcome Sunday’s race in Pocono where he ran solidly in the top-three before unexpectedly running out of fuel with roughly two laps remaining.
“Didn’t have much luck in Sonoma even though we had a good car,” said Truex. “However, the road-race package we had there gives me confidence going into Watkins Glen. Regarding the 19th-place finish in Pocono, we had a great car and the fuel issue was a surprise. What I really took away from Pocono is how our car got better and better throughout the weekend. That’s the kind of effort and talent needed as we get closer to the start of the Chase.”
Truex, who for all practical purposes punched his ticket into the 10-race Chase after winning the June race in Pocono, can mathematically lock in a playoff berth this weekend if he or another driver, who already has won this season, scores the victory at Watkins Glen.
“I’m not sitting down and trying to figure out all the different scenarios to clinch a Chase berth,” said Truex, who ranks fifth in driver points. “We’re in good shape and my focus is to figure out a way to win races. I am sure someone will tell me as soon as we clinch a Chase berth.”