Truex sets sights on championship run
Points leader credits Denver headquarters for his team’s success.
Martin Truex Jr. believes being far away from NASCAR’s hub has helped him during the most successful stretch of his career, a run he hopes ends with a championship this season.
Truex, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader, also is tied for the series lead with three victories. Already locked into the playoffs for a third straight season, Truex believes he’s better prepared to end the year with NASCAR’s trophy.
“It just seems like consistency has gotten better as we go down this road together as a team,” Truex said. “Last year was a good and this year so far seems even better so hopefully we can continue that upward trend.”
A big reason, at least in Truex’s mind, is his Furniture Row Racing team’s headquarters in Denver, two time zones from the NASCAR center outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. The location gives the team an all-in-thesame-boat feeling that has made them bond into a winning group.
“I think it’s a great team, a great situation,” Truex said. “Being in Denver, all by ourselves out there, my crew chiefs, my engineers, we’re just like a family and we get better and better as we work together.”
That’s certainly apparent this season.
Along with his three victories, Truex has eight top fives and 14 top 10s in 21 races this season. He’s led the most laps of any driver (1,291) and has been out front in 16 of 21 events so far this year.
“You don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, you don’t know what next weekend is going to bring, so we’re enjoying while we have success,” he said. “We’re working hard to stay where we’re at.”
The next step is running for a title.
Truex made the final four two years ago, yet finished 12th at Homestead to fall to fourth in the points race. In 2016, he came in as a playoff powerhouse with crown jewel victories in the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte and Southern 500 in Darlington. He then won two of the first three chase races to move out front. But problems in the round of 12 ended his run as he finished 11th overall.
This time around, Truex isn’t looking ahead. He thinks a focus on the week-to-week racing will keep himself and his crew sharp so when the playoffs come, they’ll be ready.
Yankees: Sonny Gray will make his Yankees debut Thursday at Cleveland, and Jaime Garcia will start against the Indians on Friday.
Marlins: Right-hander Edinson Volquez and shortstop J.T. Riddle will miss the rest of the season because of injuries. Volquez has been out since July 17 because of a left knee injury, and Riddle has been out since July 19 with a left shoulder injury that will require surgery next week. Volquez may also need surgery, manager Don Mattingly said. Also, Mattingly said first baseman Justin Bour is expected to be out another four to six weeks because of a strained right oblique.
White Sox: Outfielder Willy Garcia was placed on the seven-day disabled list because of a concussion he sustained during a collision with top prospect Yoan Moncada in right field against Toronto on Monday. Also, infielder/outfielder Nicky Delmonico was promoted from Triple-A Charlotte.
Astros: Jose Altuve wrapped up July with the best batting average in a month in franchise history. The All-Star second baseman hit .485 with 10 doubles, a triple, four homers and 21 RBIs. He surpassed the .476 that Richard Hidalgo posted in September 2000. Altuve’s 48 hits in July were the most in a month by an Astro since Lance Berkman had 49 in May 2008.
Giants: Monday’s loss dropped them to 35 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West — the most they’ve been behind since the final day of the 1946 season.
Athletics: Reliever John Axford was released, less than a week after he was designated for assignment. The right-hander, 34, pitched in 22 games this season, going 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA.
■ Utility player Chad Pinder was reinstated from the 10-day DL after missing more than a month with a strained left hamstring.