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Truex, Jr. finds inspiration for fast start off the track

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There are many reasons for Martin Truex Jr.’s fast start to the NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet offered more evidence of that during Sunday's Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He was a contender at the front of the field and finished second behind winner Kevin Harvick. The runner-up finish marked Truex Jr.'s third consecutive top-10 finish of the season, his first top five since October of 2014, and his first runner-up finish since April 2013.

After a rough 2014 season, Truex Jr. has found a new inspiration that's propelling him to this career-best start in these early stages of the Sprint Cup season. This also has put his racing career into an entirely new perspective.

Truex Jr.'s longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, is battling Stage III ovarian cancer and is in the midst of a one-year program of once monthly chemo treatments. 

"When you see somebody go through something like that and it is the person that you love more than anyone in the world, it takes it to a (new) level," Truex Jr. said. 

Pollex, who spearheads Truex Jr.’s foundation that raises money to help children and their families as they battle cancer, has undergone numerous surgeries as she battles the dangerous disease. 

Last season, Truex struggled at the outset, but since Pollex's diagnosis last summer he had an average finish of 16th in the final 10 races of the season. In the first three races of 2014, Truex finished 43rd, 22nd and 14th, respectively. This season he already has one top five and three top 10s.

"I think those bad days are not near as bad at the race track as you thought they were," he said. "When you get a glimpse of something that could possibly change your life like that in a bad way, it makes you look at things a lot differently. Suddenly those bad days at the race track weren't so bad. Suddenly they were okay, and I knew that if we just kept working hard, we could get through it all and certainly I feel like we have now."

There were signs from the start of the season that Truex Jr. was ready to make some early-season noise. Entering his second season with Furniture Row, he finished second in the Sprint Unlimited, eighth at the Daytona 500, sixth at Atlanta and second at Las Vegas. He is now fourth in the overall standings heading into Phoenix, which is the highest position for Furniture Row Racing in the 10-year history of the organization.

"I really can't put it into words, honestly," Truex Jr. said of his solid start to the season. "I’m just really proud of everyone. Obviously proud of Sherry, what she's been through and everything I've learned from her to be a better person."

Working closely with Richard Childress Racing, Furniture Row Racing has been the highest-finishing, ECR-powered car in the first three races of the season. While that relationship has shown dividends early in the season, Truex Jr. believes the team had major issues in 2014 that needed to be addressed.

"We had fundamental issues last year that we needed to correct in the wintertime," he said. "Obviously, out of the box it's been a lot better, and you know, I don't attribute our success to the rules changes, I attribute it to knowing what we were doing wrong last year and fixing it over the wintertime and coming out of the box kind of understanding what we're doing.

"We're going to continue to work hard and try to get to that next level," he said. "We want to win races. We have got a great team. We have got good equipment right now, and it's important when you're in those positions to try to take advantage of that. We're going to keep pushing and try to get better and hopefully get in Victory Lane a few times."

Though Pollex couldn't be at the track Sunday, she was watching Truex Jr. on TV and was happy with his performance. She tweeted out after the race “so proud of MT & his ”ª@FR78Racing team! 3 top-10's in 3 races!! Great way to start the year.”

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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