Martin Truex Jr.’s Texas Motor Speedway weekend has a number of fun elements to it, but the most important for the Furniture Row Racing driver will be Saturday night’s Duck Commander 500 Sprint Cup Series race.
Prior to the grueling 500 mile race at the 1.5-mile oval, located in Fort Worth, Truex will give an acceptance speech Thursday evening for being the 2016 recipient of Texas Motor Speedway’s Sportsmanship Award at the facility’s annual gala, benefiting Speedway Children’s Charities.
Truex’s other highlights during the weekend will be a video shoot with country music mega star Blake Shelton on Thursday and Friday, and a 30-minute youth autograph session Saturday afternoon.
“This is motorsports and you always have external obligations,” said Truex. “We’re used to it and the main focus will always be on our practices, qualifying and the race. I want to thank the Texas media for selecting me for the sportsmanship award -- it’s an honor that I truly appreciate. And I must say I am looking forward to taking part in a video shoot with Blake Shelton.”
While awards are gratifying for Truex, the big award he is looking for is to get his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota untracked after finishing 18th in Martinsville, Va.
Last year Truex put together a pair of top-10 finishes at Texas -- ninth in April and eighth in November. Had it not been for a loose wheel during the closing laps of the second race, he might have gone to Victory Lane.
“We were just about to take the lead from Brad (Keselowski) and that’s when the car started to shake,” recalled Truex about the November Texas race. “At that point I just wanted to hang on and get the car to the checkered flag. I had to conserve at the end, running about 70 percent just to make sure we got to the finish line with all the wheels on the car.
Competing at a super fast bumpy track is a positive that Truex will take into this weekend’s event.
“Texas will be another really good race,” said Truex. “The surface there is aged and pretty bumpy, just the way I like it. You will see a great deal of tire wear and cars sliding all over the place. It’s always a lot of fun to race there."
Truex, who started off the 2016 season losing the Daytona 500 by a few inches, feels his single-car team is getting closer to where it needs to be.
“We’ve been off a tick, but feel we’re getting there and it’s just a matter of time,” said Truex. “This could be the weekend that our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota will put it all together. The potential is definitely there.”