By Michael Spencer
DENVER (CBS4) – Martin Truex Jr. had a season to remember in 2016. Truex Jr. won a career-high four races and led a NASCAR Cup Series high 1,809 laps.
Despite his success, his 2016 campaign will likely be remembered for what didn’t happen more than what did.
Truex finished 0.010 seconds behind Denny Hamlin in the Daytona 500 to start the season, and then saw his championship hopes dashed at Talladega when his engine blew just 41 laps into the Hellmann’s 500.
“It was devastating,” said Truex Jr. “We worked so hard all year. Felt like we were right where we needed to be and had the rug pulled out from underneath us.”
The heartbreaking end to a career-year will serve as motivation for Truex and the rest of his Denver-based Furniture Row Racing team as they take the track in 2017.
“I feel like we were way better than where we ended up,” said Truex.
“We feel like we want to get back in the ring and we’re ready to swing,” added Furniture Row Racing President Joe Garone.
Furniture Row Racing is growing in 2017, adding a second car for the first time since the 2012 season with the addition of 20-year-old rookie Erik Jones.
“Moving up is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Jones. “Just to have the opportunity to do it at a young age is pretty neat. Especially with a top team.”
“Erik has raw talent,” remarked Garone. “He is just really a talented athlete. So you couple that with good cars, and I think it will be a formula for success for him.”
Truex and Jones are already off to a hot start. Truex had the fifth fastest time, while Jones had the 20th fastest time at Sunday’s Pole Day qualifying at Daytona International Speedway.