Martin Truex Jr. is feeling less pressure entering 2018 than he did at this time a year ago.
Before the 2017 season, Truex was one of the many Cup Series drivers without a championship. He had come close in 2015, making the final four as Kyle Busch won the championship, but he was probably most-known for the saga at Michael Waltrip Racing that led to his arrival at Furniture Row Racing.
After eight wins in 2017, including in the final race of the season over Kyle Busch for the championship, Truex is now one of five active drivers searching for a second title. And that search for a second championship comes with less self-inflicted pressure than the drive for the first one did.
“I can tell you that I feel less pressure, like I feel more comfortable in what we’re doing, who we are, how I can drive, my abilities,” Truex said. “I feel more confident in the fact that in those big pressure moments, when it’s on the line, we can get it done, because we have. Your biggest question when you’ve never been in those positions, you’re racing for your first championship or something, when all that pressure is there, how am I going to respond. I feel like I can do it and get through, but can I and will I. I did that, so that’s the ultimate confidence booster you could ever, ever have.”
Truex has spent the offseason doing the NASCAR ambassador roles that come with being the champion. He got to be at the Super Bowl to see the Philadelphia Eagles, his favorite team, win the game and has done other media and promotional appearances. The title coupled with his newfound stature in the sport has ruined Truex’s relative anonymity.
He’s probably OK with that.
“Obviously my time has been utilized by people that can get it more often and more regularly,” Truex said. “But I have noticed a change from the fans’ perspective, getting noticed more in public, which I never really had to worry about before. It’s crazy how quickly things change.”
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