Martin Truex Jr . gets sent into the tire barrier after making contact with David Ragan at Sonoma Raceway.
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
No. 78 gets his win, but the postseason is different RELATED: Truex breaks through for Pocono win " Drivers rally around Truex Martin Truex Jr . broke through for an emotional win on Sunday at Pocono that virtually assured the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet would be in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But now that he has secured a winner sticker for his car, is Truex considered a legitimate championship contender for the fall? In the latest Head-to-Head, George Winkler and Jerry Snow offer their views on Truex , who has been one of the biggest surprises of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Read their opinions, then duke it out for yourself in the comments section below. Winkler: Hey Jerry, welcome to our virtual version of UFC's Octagon. I'd like to kick things off by saying that typically I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy. Therefore, yes I'm buying into Truex being a championship contender. However, besides my penchant for being optimistic, another reason to believe in the No. 78 is because there hasn't been a reason not to believe in the No. 78 this season. Thirteen top-10 finishes in the first 14 races will do that for you. Plus, Truex has posted the most laps led in each of the past three races. His car has been fast, and his results have been anything but fluky. Snow: Thanks George, now let's rumble. Truex is one of the best stories of the season, but he's not ready for prime time. He has only three career wins and this is his 10th full-time season. Truex must develop an edge before he can be a champion. Right now, it seems like he's just happy to be here. Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are the class of the field, and if you want to talk dark horses, I could see Joey Logano or Brad Keselowski (both have an edge) in the winner's circle at Homestead before Truex . I'm happy for him that he finally broke through this year, but I don't think anyone is ready to call Truex a "closer." MORE H2H: Will Kyle Busch make the Chase? Winkler: I'd also like to see Truex show some outward fire. But that doesn't mean he lacks an inner fire. Truex has been through some difficult circumstances during the past couple of seasons. First, there's his girlfriend Sherry Pollex's battle against ovarian cancer. Before that, there was the huge setback after the Michael Waltrip Racing dustup in 2013 when Truex lost his ride. To witness how he has weathered both of those extremely difficult situations with dignity and class tells me that he's tough enough to deal with the ebbs and flows of a championship Chase in the fall. Snow: Maybe this is his time, but my gut tells me different. I'm not suggesting Truex is void of mental toughness, I just don't think he hates losing as much as a Johnson, a Harvick or a Keselowski. Those guys couldn't care less about a top 10 or even a top five. Over his career, Truex has finished among the top 10 more than 30 percent of the time (108 out of 347 starts), but he's won less than 1 percent of the races he's entered. At this stage in his career, Truex is conditioned to be satisfied with top 10s; he's obviously still learning how to win races. At 35 years old, I don't think his window of opportunity is closed, but until I see a sense of urgency, I'm going to expect the same results. Winkler: There's no doubt it will be a challenge for Truex to compete with champions like Johnson, Harvick and Keselowski down the stretch. But there's something clicking with Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn. I think that relationship has rejuvenated Truex and was exactly what he needed at this point in his career. As we saw last year with Team Penske's drivers and Harvick, once they caught on to the new rules package they seemed to maintain an advantage throughout the season. Truex and Pearn have clearly honed in on something, and the only ones not playing catch-up are Harvick and Johnson. That is impressive for a one-car team based in Denver. Snow: Truex and Pearn have figured some things out, and it's been entertaining to watch an underdog outperform some of the icons of the industry. But can we really expect him to keep this up against the big dogs? Or looking at it another way, isn't it just a matter of time before some of the established veterans like Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards put it together? Truex has the talent to win a championship one day, but it won't be this year. SHOP: Truex Jr . gear " WATCH: Truex recounts long road back to Victory Lane FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Competitors happy to see driver battle back from adversity RELATED: Junior, Kes leave gifts for Truex " Drivers rally around Truex LONG POND, Pa. -- When you have gone through what Martin Truex Jr . has in the past two years, you have plenty of folks pulling for you. On Sunday, the 34-year-old New Jersey native broke through by winning the Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 at Pocono Raceway , ending a 69-race winless streak. But the road back to Victory Lane hasn't been easy for Truex . Here is a bit of what he has faced since September of 2013: • Losing his ride at Michael Waltrip Racing due to race manipulation scandal at Richmond that saw him removed from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and eventually his sponsor, NAPA, leave the organization. • Longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last summer. • Truex also had his worst full-time Sprint Cup Series season in 2014, his first with the one-car Furniture Row outfit based out of Denver, Colorado. • Last week, Truex's grandma passed away. Following the victory at Pocono, Truex reflected on the long, adversity-filled journey he has faced in the past 21 months. "I knew it was going to be a tough road to get back. I felt at the time -- I felt lucky. At the end of that season (2013) I felt really fortunate that there was a great ride open with the 78. They were just coming off their best year ever, and went into last year honestly feeling like, OK, this is going to be good. This might take a little time to get things figured out, but it's going to be good and we're going to pick up kind of where I left off, and it was just the complete opposite. It was just miserable. Nothing went our way, nothing -- we had no speed. We couldn't make the cars work; they felt terrible to me. They were so inconsistent, you just never knew what you were going to get. "And then obviously 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 I was like, 'Wow, if she can do that, I can do this.' This is easy. Honestly, just learned a lot from her and worked hard, never gave up, believed in myself the whole time, and that's what it takes. "You've got to surround yourself with good people, and I'm just thankful for Barney Visser (team owner of Furniture Row Racing ), for Joe Garone ( Furniture Row Racing General Manager) and making good decisions over the off-season, giving Cole (Pearn, crew chief) the reins, and he took it from there, honestly. "It was definitely the hardest thing I've ever been through, but when you get through something like that, it makes you pretty damned proud of what you've accomplished, and this is easily the biggest win of my career.” WATCH: Brian France happy for Truex " 1-on-1 with Truex The turnaround with the 78 team has been remarkable, and it all starts with Pearn. The first-year pit boss is guiding Truex through the best stretch of his career and in recent weeks, Truex had been knocking on the door of getting his third career Sprint Cup victory. He led the most laps at Kansas (95 laps) but a late call for fuel only led to a ninth-place finish. He led the most laps at Charlotte (131 laps) but finished fifth. He did the same thing again at Dover and finished sixth. "It would be easy the last three weeks to get down and to hang your head and to make excuses and honestly just be disappointed, but they weren't. They were excited. They knew we were going to get this win, and they knew we were going to get it soon, and they worked hard. They didn't lose focus of how we got to where we're at, and honestly, that's what pushed us over the edge and was able to make the difference today.” Truex's peers were truly happy to see him get the win. Dale Earnhardt Jr . was among those expressing his happiness for his buddy and even paying him a visit in Victory Lane. One last shot of @poconoraceway Victory Lane! @DaleJr showed up and gave buddy @MartinTruex_Jr a "DEW shower" ☔️ -MM pic.twitter.com/8omK0UZQ76 — Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) June 7, 2015 "They're doing some pretty cool stuff being that far out of the inner circle," Earnhardt said of the team's shop in Colorado being far removed from the NASCAR hub of North Carolina. "Hats off to them. It's been a matter of time for them. Truex is a hell of a race car driver. He's always been a great driver." Yet, the period of on-track struggle is something Earnhardt can relate to. "He's just had some poor luck over the years and trying to get in the right program is really difficult. I know myself how difficult it is to get in the right situation and he's in a great one right now." And the hunger to get back to Victory Lane will return quickly. "He'll talk to his guys and by Tuesday, he'll be wanting to win the next one. That tank runs empty pretty quick. The urge and the thrill to be back in Victory Lane will be back in two or three days. He is going to get a phone full of text messages and he's got one coming from me. "Real proud, been a great friend of mine for a long time. We're partners in a couple business deals and land together, so we've been together for a long time as pals." WATCH: Dale Jr . 'impressed' by No. 78 team " Truex 'On Cloud Nine' at Pocono Race runner-up Kevin Harvick was also happy for Truex . "Obviously you always want to win, but when you can see something come full circle like their situation, it makes you proud to know them and be a part of the sport in general, to see how they've supported Sherry and all the things that they've gone through." Jimmie Johnson , who finished third to Truex at Pocono, mentioned that the win was big just because of everything Truex has overcome professionally. "When you go back to the Richmond race and the challenges that he has had, he's had more to overcome personally and professionally than probably anybody sitting in a seat right now, and for him to still walk in the garage every week with a smile on his face, climb in the car, put in the effort, be the great guy he is I think speaks volumes." The well wishes have left Truex humbled and grateful for the support from the garage community. "It's really cool, especially after the last -- the way the last year and a half or so has gone for me, up until this year, I think that people kind of got a little bit of an insight into what I'm made of and what kind of person I am, which is cool. Sucks I had to show it sometimes, but you know, just definitely a humbling feeling to have the respect of those guys because there's a lot of great people in this garage area." 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
Martin Truex Jr . says his ultimate downfall today was fighting traffic even though he came home with a third place finish.
Initial frustration gives way to encouragement over Dover results RELATED: 'Six-time' wins 10th time at Dover " Race results " Updated standings DOVER, Del. – Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr . may have initially been frustrated coming up short on a potential first win of the 2015 season in Sunday's FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks. But once given some time to think big picture both Chevrolet drivers seemed decidedly more encouraged than disappointed by their top-six efforts. While they may not have had much for eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson in the end, Kahne and Truex raced each other hard in the closing laps – so hard on one restart that after the race, a miffed Truex showed his displeasure by giving Kahne's No. 5 Farmers Chevrolet a little bump on the cool-down lap. By the time the drivers emerged from their cars, neither was still particularly upset. "Our car was inside him and he ran me down to the apron so I either had to let off or wreck all of us so I decided to let off," said Truex , who finished sixth but for the third consecutive points race led the most laps (131) without winning. Kahne calmly explained the situation from his perspective. "He was back behind me to get a run on me, obviously," Kahne said. "The spotter said I was clear, so I just went to the bottom getting into [turn] one. I think he was a little upset. He gave me a bump after the race. But I didn't really know what else to do other than to go there with guys on my outside and stuff." In the end, Kahne's fourth-place finish matched his best result of the season (he also finished fourth at Phoenix in March) despite a disappointing qualifying effort. "Started 25th and drove forward throughout the whole race," Kahne said. "We got to 12th or 13th and kind of stood there for a little while and [crew chief] Keith [Rodden] found us a way to get track position on the end. "I was able to get to second on the outside on the restart and basically the guy in fourth got to second on the outside and I ended up fourth. It was kind of just the way it goes late in the race on old tires. We did all we could. We had a pretty good run. … we just came up fourth." SHOP: Kahne gear " Truex items In the previous two races, Truex led the most laps and felt like he had the car that should have driven in Victory Lane but didn't. This week he conceded the car may not have been a race winner and in this case, salvaging a top-six – his series best 12th top-10 [tying race runner-up Kevin Harvick ] was a productive day. "We had a good car today, but it was never right,'" Truex said of his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet. "We were never right yesterday through practice. We made some changes today and we made some gains on it, but never really got it where we needed it. "Clean air was huge. When we were out front, we were OK. It just never turned good all day long and it just eventually caught up to us." With only one-third of the 36-race schedule completed, the 389 laps led ranks third in a season for Truex . He led 581 laps in 2007 and 434 in 2012. He remains second in driver points, 44 behind leader Harvick and 32 ahead of third place Johnson – the only multi-race winners on the season. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Led race-high 131 laps but finishes fifth due to fuel mileage gambles of others RELATED: Full race results " Latest Chase Grid standings CONCORD, N.C. – Same song, different verse. For the second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race, Martin Truex Jr . led the most laps. And for the second consecutive points race, leading the most laps didn't result in a trip to Victory Lane. "It's a double-edged sword," the Furniture Row Racing driver said after finishing fifth in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "It feels great to run that good again and I feel like we're going to get one but I also know how hard it is to be in that position, how hard it is to get race cars like this to put yourself in position to win. It's so competitive out here. "There's no telling how long it's going to be again, it might be next week, it might be a year from now. I don't know. It's frustrating, but it's also awesome. It hurts, but it's awesome." Two weeks ago in Kansas, Truex led 95 laps before a late stop for fuel only – hold the tires – proved to be the No. 78 team's undoing. At Charlotte in the series' longest race, the Mayetta, New Jersey native paced the field for 131 of 400 laps, giving up the lead on Lap 379 when he ducked onto pit road for a final stop. Others, including Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle , had stopped during the night's eight and final caution, at Lap 338, and chose to conserve fuel and hope for the best. Edwards won; Biffle finished second. "As far as I knew, all I had to do was catch and pass the 11 (of Denny Hamlin )," Truex said. "I didn't even know anyone could make it (without stopping). I didn't know there was anything else going on other than racing the 11. … "Once I caught him they told me there's some guys that might make it on gas. There's nothing you can do as a driver but go as hard as you can go and that's what I did." Knowing others were saving fuel and wouldn't be stopping wouldn't have mattered. "It would have just pissed me off even earlier," he said. Crew chief Cole Pearn could only shrug his shoulders afterward. "You can only run that harebrained strategy when you're back there … that's what’s so silly about it," he said of the outcome. "What do you do? A lot of times the fastest car doesn't get it done. Really for us to try and pull the strategy the 19 (of Edwards) pulled would be kind of insane … it's the way it works out. "When you're running hard you're obviously getting worse mileage because you're in the gas more. When you're running around 15th … I don't know, maybe we need to give that a try." That's not likely. If anything, the result only made Pearn that much more intent on continuing to put his driver out front. Monday might be a holiday, but Pearn said he was "ready to go to work at 6 a.m. … Work all day and kick their ass next week." Truex finished 29th at Bristol, the only time in 12 starts this season he's finished outside of the top 10. A two-time winner in the Sprint Cup Series, it's been a resurrection of sorts for the 34-year-old this season. While he may feel a bit snake-bitten, he's too busy looking at the positives to let another missed opportunity drag him or his team down. Cursed? "A little bit," he said. "But at the same time blessed to be doing what I'm doing. To have an opportunity to run up front like this, I know what it's like to be on the other side of that and I don't take that for granted. "I've got a lot to be thankful for and we're going to get us a win soon; we're going to dig hard and keep pushing forward and we'll get one." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Leads most laps for third straight race, but still no wins DOVER, Del. -- For the third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Martin Truex Jr . led the most laps, and for the third straight race he failed to win. But Truex left Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway not chafing with disappointment after missing an opportunity in a potential race-winning car—as had been the case last week at Charlotte—but miffed at fourth-place finisher Kasey Kahne for closing the door on the final restart. With nowhere to go in the inside lane, Truex finished sixth after leading a race-high 131 laps. “I was inside him, and he ran me down on the apron,” Truex said. “So I either had to let off or wreck all of us. We had a good car today but it was never right. We were never right yesterday all through practice. “We made some changes today and we made some gains on it, but never really got it where we needed it. Clean air was huge. When we were out front, we were OK. It just never turned good all day long. It just eventually caught up to us.” Kahne, understandably, had a different view of the green-white-checkered-flag restart. “He was back behind me to get a run on me, obviously; the spotter said I was clear, so I just went to the bottom getting into (Turn) 1,” Kahne said. “I think he was a little upset. He gave me a bump after the race. But I don’t know. I didn’t really know what else to do other than to go there with guys on my outside and stuff. “But we had a pretty good car. We made good adjustments. The guys did a nice job. I wanted more. We had a nice package, but just didn’t pull it off.” ALMIROLA GETS HARD-EARNED FIFTH-PLACE FINISH How bad was the handling of Aric Almirola ’s car early in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race? So bad that he twice went a lap down early in the race. But Almirola also got two “lucky dogs,” free pass to the lead lap as the highest-scored lapped car, and he spent the rest of the race making the most of his second chances, posting a season-best fifth-place finish in his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. The critical factor was Almirola’s ability to stay infront of leader Kevin Harvick before a wreck involving Brian Scott and Kyle Busch brought out the fifth caution on Lap 376. “I earned my money today, that is for sure,” Almirola said. “This Smithfield Ford Fusion was a handful most of the day. It started off extremely tight. (Crew chief) Trent Owens and the guys made really good adjustments on the car, and got it better and better. Finally we weren’t the lucky dog -- we raced and stayed on the lead lap, and when the caution came out, we got a chance to restart with the leaders. “That was the big break for us. Every time we would get the lucky dog I had to start dead last and 30-40-50 laps the leaders were right back on me. It was a great day for us, a really good points day for us. I’m proud of Trent Owens and all the guys at Richard Petty Motorsports . They have been working their guts out trying to bring better cars to the race track week in and week out.” KYLE BUSCH’S UPHILL BATTLE JUST GOT HARDER Kyle Busch ’s run toward the top 30 in points suffered a serious setback on Sunday when contact from Brian Scott ’s Chevrolet sent Busch’s Toyota into the outside wall in Turn 3 on Lap 376 of a scheduled 400. Busch was running fourth at the time and made a move to pass Scott on the inside. Unaware the No. 18 Toyota was below him, Scott turned into Busch’s car. The mea culpa, however, can’t undo the damage to Busch’s hopes of finishing in the top 30 in the standings 13 races hence. Since Busch missed the first 11 races of the season after breaking his right leg and left foot in a Feb. 21 accident at Daytona, he must win one of the next 13 races and finish in the top 30 in points to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . “This is a shame,” Busch said. “This isn’t what we need, and we weren’t going to win today, but it doesn’t help when you finish 40th.” Actually, Busch was credited with a 36th-place result, but he leaves Dover 168 points out of 30th place, needing an approximate average of 15th place over the next 13 races to have a realistic shot at the top 30. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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