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Despite Playoff Challenges, Truex Jr. Still in Contention to Defend Cup Title

DENVER, Colo. (Nov 6, 2018) – Though the first eight races of the
playoffs have not been smooth sailing for Martin Truex Jr. he still
remains in strong contention to be one of the four drivers battling
for the season championship in the Nov. 18th finale at Homestead-Miami

With two spots still open for the Championship 4, Truex will know his
fate following Sunday’s race at ISM Raceway near Phoenix. He enters
NASCAR’s penultimate race fourth in the playoff transfer standings
with a 25-point cushion above the cutline. He is also only three
points behind third-place driver Kyle Busch.

To say that Truex’s playoff run has been a roller coaster of sorts
would be an understatement. Twice he saw victory snatched away by
being taken out near the finish line. He has also been involved in
late-race accidents, and the past two weeks he had to start at the
rear of the field due to an inspection issue at Martinsville and
engine change at Texas. And there have been pit road hiccups,
including a penalty for speeding, driving through pit boxes and an
uncontrolled tire.

“No doubt, we’ve had too many unforced errors,” said Truex the 2017
NASCAR Cup Series champion. “That needs to stop and hopefully it will
be this weekend when it does. I feel good about where we’re at going
into Phoenix. I am also well aware there are a number of different
scenarios that could help us or hurt us. Heck, you could have a good
day in Phoenix and not make the final four, and on the other hand, you
could have a bad day and still make the final four.

“It’s confusing and complicated and what we need to do is just worry
about ourselves, not make any stupid mistakes, be prepared for
different situations and try to get every possible point in our No. 78
Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota.”

Truex posted top-five finishes in his last two visits to Phoenix –
third in last year’s fall race and fifth in this year’s spring race.
He also captured the pole in the spring race.

But Sunday’s race at the 1-mile oval will have a different look with a
new configuration.

“It will be interesting to see how it plays out, it’s a lot
different,” Truex said about the new ISM Raceway configuration.
“Particularly on restarts if it gets three, four or five-wide on that
dogleg. “It will be different, we will just have to see how different
and see how it plays out. The other thing that will be different is
qualifying and the way the dogleg comes into play. The way you get
your momentum on the opposite side of the track.”

Truex’s career record at Phoenix includes 25 starts, three top fives,
nine top 10s, two poles and 104 laps led. His average starting
position is 12.5 and average finish is 16.5.

No. 78 Over-the-Wall Crew, 2018
Front-tire changer

Clay Robinson, Simi Valley, Calif.

Front-tire carrier

Josh Shipplett, Winder, Ga.

Rear-tire changer

Lee Cunningham, Lake River, IL

Jack Man

Eric Groen, Sioux Center, Iowa


Brian Dheel, Norton, Ohio

Pit Crew Support

Matt Ver Meer, Mooresville, N.C.

No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Road Crew, 2018

Joe Garone, Denver, Colo.

Crew Chief

Cole Pearn, London, Ontario, Canada

Car Chief

Blake Harris, Maypearl, Texas

Ass’t Car Chief

Gary Frost, Romeo, Mich.

Race Engineers

Jeff Curtis, Fairfax Station, Va.
Pete Craik, Melbourne, Australia

Technical Director

James Small, Melbourne, Australia

Engine Tuner

Gregg Huls, Beatrice, Neb.

Engine Builder

Toyota Racing Development (TRD)


Clayton Hughes, Thomasville, N.C.

Shock Specialist

Nick Kerlin, Old Fort, Ohio

Tire Specialist

Tommy DiBlasi, Annapolis, Md.

Front-End Mechanic

Nino Venezia, Philadelphia

Rear-End Mechanic

Rob Fairweather, Westbrookville, N.Y.

IT Support

Eric Cragun, Pleasant View, Utah


Chuck Lemay, DeKalb, IL, Roy Miller, Elkridge, Md., Jon Adkins,
Hickory, N.C., Jason Taggart, Rutland, Vt.

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