Dover in June of 2007, over five years ago. That is how long it’s been since Martin Truex Jr. landed a car into Victory Lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
The journey has been strenuous for Truex Jr. who hails from an ocean-side city in New Jersey, pretty far outside of the world of NASCAR. It’s been 203 races since he has won a race, one of the longest active streaks within the sport.
Truex Jr.’s win came with Dale Earnhardt Incorporated, a team that lost their edge as well as Truex in 2010. Since then, Truex Jr. landed with Michael Waltrip Racing, which was struggling mightily once he signed on with the team. Year-after-year, Truex Jr. has continued to perform better in Waltrip’s equipment. After making the Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR’s version of the playoffs, Truex Jr.’s luck didn’t match his performance as he ended the season just outside of the top-ten in the points standings. His finish was a great disappointment compared to his teammate, Clint Bowyer, who finished runner-up to Brad Keselowski once the checkered flag was waved at Homestead on Nov. 18.
However, in 2012, Truex Jr. was able to prove something that he hasn’t been able to do since that Monday afternoon in 2007.
At Kansas in April, Truex Jr. led an astonishing 173 of the race’s 267 laps, but lost the race by just seven tenths of a second to Denny Hamlin. It may have been a disappointment for the entire team, but Truex Jr. showed that he was capable of dominating a race and winning one as long as he could put the pieces of the puzzle together. The No. 56 NAPA Toyota continued to run up front for the majority of the season, but Truex Jr. could never make it to the winner’s circle.
The reasons that Truex Jr. hasn’t won in such a lengthy time period can be speculated. However, his determination should pay off in the long run as he is due for a win in 2013 and should be able to do so early in the season. If Truex Jr. doesn’t win, expect him to do what Brian Vickers is doing, stepping down to the NASCAR Nationwide Series for a year, hoping for a return in NASCAR’s elite division as soon as possible.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.