Dover, DE (SportsNetwork.com) - Last Sunday at Charlotte, Carl Edwards became the ninth driver to virtually guarantee himself a spot in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship when he won the Coca-Cola 600 -- NASCAR's longest race of the season.
Martin Truex Jr. is hoping he will be the next driver to join the Chase party this weekend when the Sprint Cup Series competes at Dover International Speedway. Dover is Truex's home track.
Truex, who hails from Mayetta, New Jersey, is having the best start of his 10- year career in the series, as he currently sits second in the point standings (41 points behind leader and defending series champion Kevin Harvick). He has scored 11 top-10 finishes in 12 races this year, including a second-place run in the March 8 race at Las Vegas.
In the past two races, Truex has led the most laps but has come up short of winning. Earlier this month at Kansas, Truex ran in front for a total of 95 laps, but he took fuel only during his last pit stop and faded after the final restart in the closing laps to finish ninth. Jimmie Johnson won there.
At Charlotte, Truex led 131 laps but wound up finishing fifth.
"We had excellent opportunities to win the last two races in Kansas and Charlotte," Truex said. "We led the most laps in each race, but different pit strategies for fuel mileage bit us at the end. For the record, I've never ever liked fuel mileage races. Last week is last week. It's Dover that's on our minds right now. What we learned the past two races is that we can run up front and contend for the win. We keep on making progress, and that's always a good sign."
Truex is in his second season as driver of the No. 78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing, a single-car team owned by Barney Visser and based in Denver, Colorado. Most Sprint Cup teams have their headquarters in the Charlotte area.
The first of Truex's two career Sprint Cup wins occurred at Dover on June 4, 2007. His most recent victory in the series happened 68 races ago on June 23, 2013 at the Sonoma, California road course. He drove for Michael Waltrip Racing two years ago.
Truex has recorded eight top-10 finishes in 18 Sprint Cup races at Dover. He placed in the top-10 in both races here last year.
"For me, Dover is special," he said. "I consider it my home track being a New Jersey native. Dover was the site of my first Sprint Cup win, and last year when we struggled in the (No.) 78 car, Dover was still good to me with finishes of sixth and seventh."
Dover, a one-mile, concrete-surfaced track, has 24 degrees of banking in all of its turns as well as 9 degrees of banking on the frontstretch and backstretch. This will be the 91st time NASCAR's top series will race at this track.
Truex has an average start of 14.2 and an average finish of 15.8 at Dover. He has led a total of 227 laps here, including 216 laps when he won the spring race in '07.
"If your car is off at Dover it can be the most miserable 400 laps of your life," Truex said. "But it's also a rewarding day when your car is running strong. There's a fine line of being good and horrible at Dover. I've experienced both."
Forty-five teams are on the entry list for the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, May 31. Race: FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks. Site: Dover International Speedway. Track: 1-mile oval. Start time: 1 p.m. ET. Laps: 400. Miles: 400. 2014 Winner: Jimmie Johnson. Television: FOX Sports 1. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.