Monday, October 9, 2017

An emotional win for Martin Truex Jr. at Charlotte

Martin Truex Jr. victorious at Charlotte
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs

By Lisa Janine Cloud

Martin Truex Jr. added a sixth checkered flag to the side of the No. 78 Furniture Row Camry Sunday evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Not only did he pad his points lead, but he will automatically advance to the next round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Playoffs. 

While being interviewed by Krista Voda in Victory Lane, Truex Jr. struggled to keep his voice steady but ended up turning away from the cameras to compose himself before continuing with post-race interviews and activities.

Later, in the media center, Truex Jr. explained the rush of emotions included thoughts of his long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who watched the race from home after having another round of chemotherapy this past Monday.

“I couldn't hold it in anymore. Yeah, Sherry, I was thinking about her because she's not here, and I know she really wanted to be. She hates missing ‑‑ seeing our guys succeed. I know our guys love having her around when we win, and she's a fun person to celebrate with, so I thought about that. I thought about winning this first race of the round, the pressure coming off. Just a lot of things, I guess, you know. I was worn out. I just lost it for a minute.”

Truex Jr.’s perspective has been shaped by the roller coaster ride his career has taken. Despite back-to-back Xfinity Series championships, his Cup career yielded only three wins in 10 full seasons prior to 2016. He had four victories in 2016 and led 425 more laps than any other driver but a blown engine at Talladega put him out of contention for the championship. If something could go wrong with a race car, it went wrong for Truex Jr.

“For a long time, it was rough, right, so this sport is humbling as hell,” he said. “You never know what can happen next week. You could win 10 races in a row and then all of a sudden you can't do anything right, you know. So just dealing with the ups and downs and keeping that kind of even keel and keeping your head on straight and understanding the things that are truly important.

“All those things are what I've really learned, and when you get out of the car after a big win, you start thinking about all that stuff, and that's when it hits you. It just hits you like a ton of bricks, and it hit me today in Victory Lane and all of a sudden you can't talk. You feel like an idiot, but there's just so many things that you're thinking about and so much emotion and so much you're thankful for because this stuff is so hard, and you never know if you'll get another chance to do it. You just never know. It's definitely an unbelievable feeling.”

Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs

Truex Jr. acknowledged that while he enjoys seeing his team succeed, he still feels good about his own success, about finally having something to show for the effort he's expended.

“It's just a really fun group," Truex Jr. said. "They really appreciate it. They work so hard. They put so many hours into this and so much time away from their family. It's nice to see them have success, and you know, for me I enjoy that as much as the wins myself, just seeing them succeed and seeing them be happy and seeing their hard work pay off.

“It also feels pretty damned good for me just after all those years of heartbreaks and getting close and not catching the breaks and all the things going the way you don't want them to, that hey, sometimes it is your turn. That feels good, as well,”

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