HEIGHT: 5'11 WEIGHT: 180 lbs
HOMETOWN: Mayetta, NJ
RESIDENCE: Mooresville, NC
RANK: 16 POINTS: 781
MARTIN TRUEX JR: NO. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS TOYOTA DRIVER
Martin Truex Jr.’s path to NASCAR started in his youth riding the waves of the Atlantic Ocean hoisting nets full of clams for his father’s family-owned seafood business in Mayetta, N.J. The money earned working for his dad, who also owns a pretty impressive racing resume, allowed the younger Truex to polish his skills as a driver in the go-karts and Northeastern modifieds.
Success led to the NASCAR world where he won back-to-back Nationwide Series championships then became a full-time Sprint Cup driver twice securing berths in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.
After five second-place finishes since he won his first race in 2007, the pinnacle of Truex’s career to date might have come on June 23 when he dominated the road course race at Sonoma Raceway. It marked the first checkered flag in 10 years for his sponsor NAPA AUTO PARTS and also marked the first time Truex won with Michael Waltrip Racing, his team since 2010.
Truex’s goals for the remainder of the 2013 season are clear. Repeat those trips to victory lane and drive the No. 56 to a second-consecutive berth in the Chase with the view toward winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
The 33-year-old’s goals away from the track are just as clear. The Martin Truex Jr. Foundation has raised more than $1.5 million it distributed to initiatives like the Second Harvest Food Bank backpack program, the Levine Children’s Hospital Special Needs Fund in Charlotte and the Martin Truex Jr. Pediatric Unit at Southern Ocean County (N.J.) Hospital. He’s also raised $100,000 to help rebuild his home state in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Truex started racing at age 11 when he climbed behind the wheel of a go-kart. The next seven years saw several victories and championships at New Egypt Speedway in N.J. Like his father, the 18-year-old raced a modified at Wall Stadium Speedway, even winning the prestigious Wall Stadium Turkey Derby, a race Martin Sr. won years earlier.
He then caught the attention of the NASCAR world including Dale Earnhardt Jr. who was looking for a driver for the Chance 2 Nationwide team he operated jointly with DEI. Truex drove a handful of races for Chance 2 in 2003 before racing fulltime in 2004. That year he won six races and seven poles en route to his first Nationwide championship.
He defended his championship in 2005 by visiting victory lane six times and winning three poles. Truex moved to the Sprint Cup series in 2006, driving DEI’s No. 1 car and recording two top-five finishes to earn 19th place in the point standings.
In 2007, Truex won the Sprint Showdown in May then just weeks later won the Dover race seven seconds ahead of the second-place car. In November, he posted the quickest time at Texas Motor Speedway for his first pole award. In addition, he went on to qualify and finish 11th in the Chase championship point standings with a win, seven top-five and 14 top-10 finishes.
In 2008, he earned three top-five and 11 top-10 finishes finishing 15th in the standings. The 2009 season saw Truex finish six times in the top 10 and finish 23rd in points.
Truex was one of the sport’s most sought after drivers in 2009 when NAPA AUTO PARTS chose him as Michael Waltrip’s successor. The announcement was made in July before a live television audience and a packed house of media, sponsors, employees and fans at MWR. By season’s end, the 29-year-old driver finished 23rd in the championship point standings that included three poles, one top-five and six top-10 finishes.
In 2010, he finished out his first full season with Michael Waltrip Racing ranked 22nd in the championship standings. Highlights included contending for victories at the Daytona 500 and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He also won the pole at Dover International Speedway and took home the victory at the Sprint Showdown and nearly backed it up moments later with a runner-up result in the Sprint All-Star race. In total, Truex scored one top-five, seven top-10 and 24 top-20 finishes.
In 2011, Truex contended for a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, ending the season on a strong note with four top-10 finishes in the last five races. His third-place finish in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway helped secure the NAPA team to 18th place in the standings. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver’s year-end stats included a pole at the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on Oct. 2 along with three top-five, 12 top-10 and 24 top-20 finishes.
In 2012, Truex earned one of Michael Waltrip Racing’s two Chase for the Sprint Cup berths – a first in the history of the organization. The driver’s pole at Texas Motor Speedway as well as seven top-five and 19 top-10 finishes capped off his best season in the Cup Series and an 11th-place in the championship standings.
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