Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, June 8, 2015, 8:49 a.m.
If you can’t get a good race, get a good story.
And try, try again.
Kind of like Martin Truex Jr.
Among the thousand or so words Truex said after winning Pocono Raceway’s Axalta 400 were these: “You know, I wanted to win for this team because I knew how good they were, how much they deserved it, the job they’ve been doing, and I’ve just honestly been so proud of their outlook on the way this year has gone.
“It would be easy, the last three weeks, to get down and hang your head and make excuses and, honestly, just be disappointed, but they weren’t. They were excited. They knew they were going to get this win, and they 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 a difference [Sunday].”
The first Pocono wasn’t a particularly good race, but Martin Truex Jr.’s victory made for a good story. In these dreary days of writing, racing, and writing about racing, a man has to take what he can get.
Every week, what happens reminds me of incidents that have happened in the past. It’s a consequence of age and experience. For instance, I remember a sit-down interview (literally) in which I sat next to Truex one sunshiny Daytona Beach morning outside his recently acquired motor coach in the infield at Speedweeks.
My impression then was “good guy.” As best I can tell from afar, that’s the impression now. A lot has happened in the meanwhile. It speaks well of Truex that he doesn’t seem to have changed any more than any other man would with the onset of age, money and the twists and turns of life.
What has changed is that, when I talked to Truex on that morning long ago, the general consensus was that he had it made.
As Lee Corso might say, not so fast.
At 34 and closing in on 35 (end of the month), Truex has had a respectable Sprint Cup career. The latest victory was his third. The first was in 2007, the second in 2013. He’s plied his trade for several teams. When he landed at Furniture Row Racing, it was his best, not the best, opportunity.
Truex won championships in what is now the Xfinity Series in 2004-05, winning six times both years. He’s never won a Truck race but only competed in two. He won IROC races in ’05 and ’06.
The modern description that applies to Truex’s career is from the old Charlie Rich song, “Rolling with the Flow”:
Some might be calling me a bum / But I’m still out there having fun / And I ain’t never growing old / I keep on rolling with the flow.
The song got most of its airplay in 1977. I remember it. Truex was born three years later.
Sherry Pollex, Truex’s longtime girlfriend, is fighting cancer. She was in Victory Lane Sunday and is in a round of chemo today. His grandmother died last week.
See what I mean by “rolling with the flow”? Life is full of peaks and valleys. Weeks have peaks and valleys. The best a man (and a woman) can really depend upon is the occasional fruited plain.
Truex may just get his stardom yet. He’s second in the Sprint Cup points, which makes no tangible difference at all since he’s won a race. Truex — driving a Chevy in a plain, black wrapper, its team commuting everywhere from Denver, Richard Childress keeping Welcome (N.C.) supply lines open, with the series’ only Canadian crew chief (Cole Pearn) and a furniture baron (Barney Visser) as owner – has finished in the top 10 in every race but one.
In the season’s first 10 races, Truex led a total of 32 laps. In the last four, the total is 458.
These are not the numbers of an underdog. These are the numbers of a contender.
My new novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, will be available at amazon.com for advance order on June 29. You can read it beginning July 14. Or that’s the plan at the moment. My existing books are available here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1