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2017:

Truex Caps His Best Season

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By Ben White

Toyota drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch proved to be the top championship contenders during the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season, winning a combined 13 of 36 races over the course of the season.

In his 14th Cup Series season dating back to 2004, Martin Truex Jr. put Barney Visser’s Furniture Row Racing Toyota in position to secure his first NASCAR Cup Series championship. The fact he was driving sleek and powerful No. 78 machines prepared in Denver, Colorado, far away from the North Carolina hub of stock car racing, spoke volumes of how well organized the team had become.

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Driving the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Kyle Busch won the Cup Series title in 2015 and came within five points of a repeat championship. In 2017, he consistently ran upfront and visited Victory Lane at Pocono, New Hampshire, Dover, Bristol and Martinsville in his quest for a second title.

After years of gaining experience with such teams as Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Michael Waltrip Racing, Truex Jr. joined Visser’s operation and began to build a winning organization under team manager Joe Garone and crew chief Todd Berrier. A year later, Cole Pern was placed in the crew chief position and began to form a relationship that would eventually result in 23 of Truex’s 27-career wins.

Truex enjoyed his best season to date with eight victories, 26 top-10 finishes and three pole positions.

The second-generation driver dominated the second half of the Championship 4 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, beating Busch to the checkered flag by .681 seconds and by five points in the battle for the championship.

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 19: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

2017

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MOVIES TO WATCH: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST AND WONDER WOMAN

NO. 1 SONG: “SHAPE OF YOU” BY ED SHEERAN

GALLON OF GAS: $2.41

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BEST DRIVER

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the Furniture Row Racing Toyota, enjoyed his best season in 2017 with eight Cup Series victories. The Mayetta, New Jersey, native led 2,253 laps of 10,368 completed during the 36-race schedule. His average start was 6.8 and average finish was 9.4. He suffered only five crashes and one engine failure throughout the year. Truex Jr. was never below second in points following the ninth race of the season at Richmond Raceway.

BEST RACE

After six years of searching for Victory Lane, Wood Brothers Racing scored its 99th NASCAR win at Pocono Raceway with Ryan Blaney wheeling the team’s No. 21 Ford. The second-generation driver from High Point, North Carolina, led only 10 of 200 laps but held off Kevin Harvick to score his first Cup Series victory. The most recent win for the famed Wood Brothers Racing team came in the 2011 Daytona 500 with driver Trevor Bayne.

TOP CARS

Martin Truex’s No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Bass Pro Shops Toyota won eight NASCAR Cup Series events during the 2017 season.

Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing/M&M’s Toyota posted five wins with 22 top-10 finishes in 36 series starts.

2017 Season Recap

DATE | LOCATION | WINNER

Feb. 26 | Daytona International Speedway | Kurt Busch

March 5 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Brad Keselowski

March 12 | Las Vegas Motor Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.

March 19 | Phoenix Raceway | Ryan Newman

March 26 | Auto Club Speedway | Kyle Larson

April 2 | Martinsville Speedway | Brad Keselowski

April 9 | Texas Motor Speedway | Jimmie Johnson

April 24 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Jimmie Johnson

April 30 | Richmond Raceway | Joey Logano

May 7 | Talladega Superspeedway | Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

May 13 | Kansas Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.

May 28 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Austin Dillon

June 4 | Dover Motor Speedway | Jimmie Johnson

June 11 | Pocono Raceway | Ryan Blaney

June 18 | Michigan International Speedway | Kyle Larson

June 25 | Sonoma Raceway | Kevin Harvick

July 1 | Daytona International Speedway | Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

July 8 | Kentucky Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.

July 16 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Denny Hamlin

July 23 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway | Kasey Kahne

July 30 | Pocono Raceway | Kyle Busch

Aug. 6 | Watkins Glen International | Martin Truex Jr.

Aug. 13 | Michigan International Speedway | Kyle Larson

Aug. 19 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Kyle Busch

Sept. 3 | Darlington Raceway | Denny Hamlin

Sept. 9 | Richmond Raceway | Kyle Larson

Sept. 17 | Chicagoland Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.

Sept. 24 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Kyle Busch

Oct. 1 | Dover Motor Speedway | Kyle Busch

Oct. 8 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.

Oct. 15 | Talladega Superspeedway | Brad Keselowski

Oct. 22 | Kansas Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.

Oct. 29 | Martinsville Speedway | Kyle Busch

Nov. 5 | Texas Motor Speedway | Kevin Harvick

Nov. 12 | Phoenix Raceway | Matt Kenseth

Nov. 19 | Homestead-Miami Speedway | Martin Truex Jr.

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