Hal Martin is taken out by Brad Teague soon after getting back on the lead lap.
No. 78 places third, carries momentum from Michigan RELATED: Complete results for Michigan " Analysis of all 43 drivers at Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Martin Truex Jr . almost made the most of Sunday's rainy race day at Michigan International Speedway , aiming for his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory on the heels of the previous weekend's Pocono breakthrough. Instead, a brush with NASCAR royalty and continued momentum were respectable consolation prizes. Truex finished third in Sunday's rain-shortened Quicken Loans 400 , failing to lead a lap for the first time in a five-race span. But the streak associated with his strong start to 2015 became a historic one. With Sunday's result, Truex became the first driver to post 14 top-10 finishes in the season's first 15 races since King Richard Petty in 1969. "Just missed it a little bit today, but really proud of our season, really proud to have obviously my name mentioned next to Richard Petty," Truex said. "The King is pretty special, so thankful for my team and what they've done this year, and hopefully we'll keep this thing rolling." Momentum, as it pertained to the race itself, was difficult to achieve. The multiple starts and stops for periodic rain showers resulted in four red flags and more caution laps than green-flag laps in the opening 50 circuits. Even with the interruptions, Truex had moved all the way from his ninth-place starting spot to second in the running order. But in Truex's mind, the race turned for the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet team and crew chief Cole Pearn during their first pit stop. When the yellow flew for a competition caution on Lap 40, Truex entered the pits in second place but left in seventh as the crew waited to get extra fuel in the tank. Truex lined up on the less-advantageous inside row for that restart and subsequent ones, halting his progress until the latter stages of the race. Measuring progress through the handful of brief rain delays wasn't an easy task. Pearn has been an integral part of Furniture Row's rise in his first season as a Sprint Cup crew chief, but for all his early signs of pit-box savvy, he'd never quite seen anything like the soggy Sunday in Michigan's Irish Hills. "It's got to be the weirdest race I've ever been a part of, that's for sure," Pearn said. "As many caution laps as we ran, the strategy kept changing. I felt like we did right at the end there, which it either could've gone green or could've restarted on the front row or fourth, I think we could've had a shot to win. "I felt like the car was good enough, but it's really hard to know. The pace was up and down -- some runs were really slow and then it picked back up at the end there, so it was all over the map." MORE: Manufacturer change for No. 78 team? For Truex, the rain delays posed less of an impact on strategy than they did on his focus. "More than anything it's just a pain in the butt," Truex said. "I mean, you get in there, you get ready to go, and you're like, all right, here we come, getting ready to go green, and it's raining again. It's just a pain in the butt. Once you get in the car and get the helmet on and get mentally prepared, you're ready to go, it's kind of just a big letdown when you've got to stop and get out of the car again. "More than anything, we just want to get out there and get racing and put on a good show and then get to go home and spend some time there." Circumstances -- whether rain- or restart-related -- didn't fall in favor of the Furniture Row outfit with the same alignment that they did at Pocono Raceway . But the team gets to carry the headway from another top-five finish back to its Colorado home base with an idle week for the series coming up. "I really felt like we had a good car capable of winning the race today; we just didn't really have the track position to show it, having to stay on the bottom as much as we did," Pearn said. "But that's just the way it went. Still good to keep the momentum going and have something we can continue to build off of." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Host Matthew Dillner has a lot to deal with as he makes his way through the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage in Daytona.
Matt Kenseth gets loose in front of a pack of cars setting off a big wreck that takes out multiple big names.
Sherry Pollex's cancer fight adds perspective, purpose behind charity RELATED: Catwalk for a Cause raises money for cancer research Martin Truex Jr . rolls into his "home track" Dover International Speedway this week the most dominant driver without a win this season. For the last two points races, the New Jersey native's No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy has led the most laps. He and reigning Sprint Cup Series champ Kevin Harvick have earned the most top-10 finishes (11) of any driver in the series. And, Truex sports a whopping 25-point lead on the next closest points position to qualify for the 16-driver Chase for theCup. Truex' 2014 struggles on track -- consistent bad luck and frequent car problems in his first year with the Furniture Row team -- now seem firmly in the rear-view mirror. And away from the track, Truex's girlfriend Sherry Pollex is responding well in treatment for ovarian cancer -- diagnosed last summer. By all reasonable standards, Truex is already a winner this year. He just hasn't hoisted a trophy. Yet. Perspective has come from facing great hardship and it has been evident even in disappointment for Truex. After leading a race-best 131 laps in Sunday night's grueling Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , he was interviewed on pit road and initially grimaced at yet another near-miss -- a fifth place finish. But before the camera pulled away, Truex had summoned a smile and offered perspective. MORE: #TBT: Truex earns first career Cup win After all that he and Pollex have endured in the past year, good days behind the wheel are a bonus. And Truex is collecting lots of bonus right now. "Toward the end of last year things were looking bad and the car wasn't running well and I was in front-line treatment (for cancer),'' Pollex said. "Now his team is on fire and they have the car to beat every weekend. I'm still in my maintenance chemo, but I live a normal life with it. "Even if Martin wasn't doing well on track, we're kinda winning at life. There are so many things we are thankful for." And as they have for years, Truex and Pollex have generously given back on their blessings through the Martin Truex Jr . Foundation. The foundation's marquee event, Catwalk for a Cause -- a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research and treatment at the Charlotte-based Levine Children’s Hospital -- was held May 13 and raised nearly $300,000. The awareness generated and hearts warmed were priceless. A couple dozen of the sport's biggest names showed up to bid on silent auction items and cheer the participants on as they walked the runway wearing fashions from local boutiques and Belk's. The Mooresville, N.C., facility's décor was created by former NASCAR driver Shawna Robinson, who recently completed treatment for breast cancer herself. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kasey Kahne , Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick were among those who walked the runway with young cancer patients. "Sherry (Pollex) does so much and these kids have such great spirit and they don't know any different,'' said Danica Patrick , who dazzled on stage alongside fellow NASCAR driver and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and 6-year old, Mya, who is undergoing chemotherapy for a form of leukemia. "It shows how you can be in those situations if you don't think too far forward, and live in the moment." It's a lesson Pollex has had reinforced. Her commitment to the spring event never wavered even in the immediate days after being diagnosed with cancer herself. "God works in mysterious ways,'' Truex said. "When Sherry first got diagnosed she thought about all the kids she had in the Catwalk before and the kids to come and said, 'If they can do this, I can do this.' ' "That was honestly the first thing she thought, 'I'm going to show them I can do it, then they will do it.' And it's a constant snowball effect." Pollex is philosophical about the irony of the situation. For years she has dedicated herself to helping this cause through the foundation's resources. "I remember not long after I was diagnosed, telling my mom that God must have had a plan for me because I've spent half my life teaching kids how to beat this disease then I ended up with it,'' Pollex said. "I definitely think it's ironic. Maybe God knew I would have to teach them how to fight and then one day I'd know what they went through. I can't imagine there being any other plan for me. "If you try to just look at the positive side of it, it's an opportunity to know what they've been through and what the treatments are like. "Nobody really knows what cancer is like unless you have it. You have an empathy that no one can explain unless you're a survivor. It gives me an opportunity to teach them to beat the disease." Because it is considered a "rare" form of cancer, pediatric cancer receives only a small fraction of the funding for research and new treatment that adult forms of cancer receive, according to Dr. Javier Oesterheld, interim director of Levine's Pediatric Hematology and Oncology unit. The money raised by Truex and Pollex is extremely important. "I will tell you, NASCAR as a whole is incredible about this,'' Oesterheld said. "This event is so amazing, how much it raises and just the awareness it puts out there. "All we need (for our cause) is our one person to really push it forward. People like Martin and Jeff Gordon . They've really made a huge difference for us." Beyond the practical side of raising money, the Catwalk has a special and undeniable tangible effect. The very people benefitting get to be a part of the process. And by the end of the evening, it was genuinely hard to see who was helping whom. The kids were grinning and laughing and hamming it up despite their tough circumstances. And the adults were smiling back at them, inspired by their strength and spirit, awed by the lesson of living in the moment. It's impossible not to leave Catwalk without being moved. "Imagine the feeling these kids get when they're up here helping their peers,'' Truex said. "They have friends back in the hospital that were too sick to come here tonight. Imagine what they feel in their heart when they're up here and everyone's cheering for them and they say, 'This is for our friends back in the hospital and for kids that haven't been diagnosed yet.' "These kids raise the money. We don't. "At the end of the day, we're both blessed to be healthy enough to do it, especially Sherry with what she's been through. This year was extra special to her for that reason." Pollex agreed. "We were so humbled all those people were there, and I feel like this year was different because of my diagnosis,'' she said. "We've always wanted to help people. And now that we can't have kids of our own it takes on a new importance in our lives. Those kids become our kids. " With the way Truex has been contending, it won't be long until the couple gets to celebrate their perseverance and resolve in Victory Lane. He's a legitimate favorite this weekend. Truex scored his career first Cup win at Dover's Monster Mile in 2007 and has an impressive two pole positions and eight top-10s in 18 starts at the notoriously tough concrete oval. "I would never want our lives necessarily to turn out this way, but Martin is a completely different person (since I was diagnosed with cancer) and looks at everything differently, not just racing,'' Pollex said. "I don't know how anyone could be the same person after going through this. "I look at it like we got an opportunity to show God what we're made of." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 78 Chevrolet takes checkered flag after leading 97 laps RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " BUY: Truex Jr. gear LONG POND, Pa. – Martin Truex Jr . knew that his third career victory would come – eventually. Enjoying easily the finest season of his NASCAR career, Truex raced to a convincing win in Sunday’s Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400, leading 97 of 160 laps, including the final 27 at Pocono Raceway . His victory marked the third consecutive Sprint Cup race in which Truex led the most laps. He'd led 131 laps at both Charlotte and Dover, only to come home fifth and sixth in the last two weeks. "We finally got it," said Truex, who had registered top-10 finishes in 12 of the first 13 races this season. "We've had a great season. We have had everything it has taken to win races (and) we just hadn't got it done. "This team deserves to win and I've known that all year long. Throughout my career I've kind of gotten used to disappointment, honestly, and I've learned to deal with those days where it didn't go your way, even though you didn’t do anything wrong." The victory ended Truex’s 69-race winless skid. A long time coming, it was popular in the garage – even with his fiercest rivals – for multiple reasons. Truex drives for Furniture Row Racing , a bit of an outlier in the racing world as a single-car team based in Denver. Sunday's Sprint Cup victory was the second ever for Furniture Row and owner Barney Visser, who also won at Darlington with driver Regan Smith in the 2011 Southern 500. After winning consecutive NASCAR XFINITY Series titles, Truex, 34, had bounced around, from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to Michael Waltrip Racing , where it looked like he might have found a home. Then came the second Richmond race of 2013 in which Truex had seemingly raced his way into the Chase – only to have his team penalized out of the picture. He then lost his ride when MWR was compelled to consolidate. Prior to Sunday, he'd managed only two Sprint Cup victories -- at Dover in 2007 and Sonoma in 2013. MORE: Drivers rally around Truex Jr. after victory But even his on-track travails paled in comparison to those of his long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who battled cancer in 2014 – a year in which Truex managed to lead only one lap all season. If that wasn't enough, Truex lost his grandmother this week. It was Sherry who told Truex to have faith and dig deep after the frustration of 2013 and that everything would work out. "I kind of believed her," Truex said. "I just knew it was going to take a lot of work. I knew it was going to be a tough road. … I felt really fortunate that there was a great ride open with the (Furniture Row) 78 … Then Sherry's situation happened and it was like: All right, this is when you show people what you're made of. She showed me what she was made of and it was like, wow, if she can do that, I can do this. "It never gets any better than this. It takes time to heal things, especially with what Sherry and I went through. This just kind of makes you forget all about it. I just feel super-blessed to be with this group of guys. I'm just proud to drive cars for them and proud that Sherry is here, healthy. She is as excited as I am and everything is going well for her." Kevin Harvick , who finished second on Sunday, said he was "really happy" for Truex. "If you're going to lose to somebody today, that's a great person to lose to," Harvick said. "You look at everything, personally and professionally, Martin and Sherry have dealt with and you have to be super-happy for them. To see them have that bright spot is something I think the whole garage will support and be happy with." Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a long-time friend of Truex, who finished 11th, concurred "I'm just happy for him," Earnhardt said. "I know he's been through a lot of stuff, both inside the car and outside the car the last several years. He's been able to get into a good opportunity with good people. He's got a team that believes in him. They've come a long way over the last several years." WATCH: Dale Jr. on Truex's victory Harvick, fastest in all three practice sessions this weekend, had nothing for Truex, who opened a 2.75-second lead with 12 laps to go. If Truex had a true advantage against Harvick, it was on restarts, of which there were four in the final 40 laps. Truex avoided the need to hold off Harvick one last time when Danica Patrick (whose crash brought out a caution on Lap 135) went spinning for a second time, but this time right through the entry of pit lane. This time, the race stayed green. "The difference was the one real good (restart)," Truex said. "Joey (Logano) was behind me and gave me a good shot. I just tried to mix it up so the (guys behind me) weren't sure what I was going to do next. I think we picked the right gear ratio for restarts here and that is critical." Truex's triumph was also the first for crew chief Cole Pearn. "We've got a really good, tight-knit group of guys," Pearn said. "That makes it a lot of fun being out there (in Denver). We've all made similar commitments in our lives. We hang out together and that just makes it a ton of fun when you can succeed with a group like that." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France talks with SIRIUS XM about Martin Truex Jr.'s big win at Pocono Raceway and what it means for Furniture Row Racing.
Jeff Gordon holds off a late-race charge by Mark Martin to take his second consecutive victory at Sonoma Raceway and his fourth victory of the 1999 season.
Martin Truex Jr. gets sent into the tire barrier after making contact with David Ragan at Sonoma Raceway.
Veteran driver rejoined team in 2014 as driver development coach Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Mark Martin , a 35-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner with Roush Fenway Racing (then Roush Racing), said Friday via Twitter that he is no longer with RFR. No. RT @timewarpnut : @markmartin @green31v @JaredLanders777 Mark, are you still going to be working with Rousch drivers this year? — Mark Martin (@markmartin) February 6, 2015 Martin had rejoined the organization this past July, signing on as a driver development coach to work with young drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne, who will begin his first full-time Cup season this year. At the time, Martin said, "I'm excited to return to Roush Fenway Racing, as it feels like I'm going home to where I belong. I was fortunate to help build this team from the beginning and it's very humbling to be a part of Jack's team again." Martin , 56, had previously been in a consulting role with Stewart-Haas Racing, the last team he drove for in the Sprint Cup Series. On Saturday, Martin responded to a question on Twitter with the following reason for not wanting to work with Roush anymore. I didn't want to go to the races. I've done enough of that for now. Except for dirt track. RT @dustincary : @markmartin what happen at Roush? — Mark Martin (@markmartin) February 7, 2015 FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule