CONCORD, North Carolina – Mayetta, New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr. laid down the fastest lap in the final round of NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying on Thursday night, capturing the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.
In Thursday’s lone practice session, the No.78 Bass Pro Shops Toyota wound up seventh, giving the team confidence in potentially having a shot at the pole in qualifying.
Truex ended up twelfth in the first round of the three round qualifying session, and made a big jump up to fifth in the second round. In the final five minute segment, Truex Jr. shot to the top of the scoring pylon with a fast speed of 192.328 MPH, clinching his second pole in the last three Sprint Cup races.
“The track was changing quite a bit throughout the run,” said Truex. “We were making some pretty big adjustments on it because we didn’t feel like our first run was very good. We really the first two rounds didn’t put together a good lap on my end, and the car just wasn’t where I needed it to be. Fixing the problems that I had and the problems with the car, it just all came together when it counted.”
The Furniture Row Racing driver has quickly become one of the fan-favorites, and it was certainly evident on Thursday night as the crowd let out a huge cheer once Truex was announced as the pole winner. It is Truex’s ninth career pole in 382 Sprint Cup races, but his first at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“Feels good. 600 miles. That first pit stall, we are going to be on pit road a lot on Sunday night, so that is certainly going to be an advantage,” said Truex. “Hopefully we take advantage of it, make it work for us. Looking forward to getting to work on Saturday (practice) and hopefully this thing will be good for Sunday night.”
Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Trevor Bayne rounded out the rest of the top-10 qualifiers.
Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, 600 miles, is the longest event of the season, 100 miles longer than any other race on the schedule. Due to it’s length, the Coca-Cola 600 has always stood out as one of, if not the most physically demanding race of the season. In 2012, ESPN’s Sport Sciences did a feature on Denny Hamlin during the nearly 4-hour event. Using wires and censors, they were able to record impressive physical data, including a loss of more than 13 pounds of water weight from sweating and a sustained heart rate of 130 beats per minute.
But the endurance-factor of the event is only one aspect that makes Sunday’s race so great. Annually falling on Memorial Day weekend, the Coca-Cola 600 has become quite frankly an “American tradition.” The thousands of fans in attendance are always treated to special pre-race ceremonies that are full of military appreciation, and this year won’t be any different.
Accompanied by the traditional prayer and national anthem, Sunday’s ceremonies will also include a rendition of “Amazing Grace”, a “21 Gun Salute”, Taps, and a special flyover by four F-15’s from Seymour Johnson AFB.
Fans watching on TV won’t miss out on any of it though, as it will all be showcased on FOX’s pre-race coverage, which is set to begin at 5:30 ET. As your Sunday afternoon begins to wind down, make sure your American flags are up, and your TV’s are tuned into FOX, as one of the greatest American traditions once again is coming our way.