After trying for 218 races, Martin Truex Jr. finally scored his second career Sprint Cup Series win in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350. The win could ultimately end up being huge for the rest of his career.
Truex had a lot of success in his Nationwide Series career. In his only two full-time seasons, 2004 and 2005, he was a 12-time race winner and series champion in both seasons.
This led to some lofty expectations upon his call up to the Sprint Cup Series prior to the 2006 season.
He had a very respectable rookie season, notching five top-10 finishes and ending the season in 19th place in the championship standings. Then at Dover in 2007, his second full-time season, he scored his first career win in dominant fashion. He led in 216 of the 400 laps that day.
No one could have guessed that it would take just over six years for him to win again.
He had been close many times prior to Sunday. Truex posted a runner-up finish six times since his breakthrough win, including last year's race at Kansas and this season's race in Texas, where he had the dominant car.
For Truex, this win will certainly do a lot. First of all, it puts him back inside the top-10 in the point standings, and gives him a much better chance of qualifying for the Chase.
Secondly, it guarantees him a spot in next year's All-Star Race. He has been forced to try and race his way into that event each year since 2008.
Maybe most importantly for Truex, this win will erase any stigma that may have been attached to having just one career win. No longer can he be called a "one-hit wonder," nor could the win be considered a fluke.
It is no doubt more prestigious to go by the title of repeated winner than to forever be known as a one-time winner.
The joy and relief of the moment were evident on his face as he climbed from his car in victory lane. You could tell that this meant a lot to him, and after all of the struggle that it took to finally get back in the win column, it probably felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from him.
While Truex undoubtedly has a lot more to accomplish in the sport before he could ever be considered one of the greats, ending his long winless streak is a tremendous step. Now that he has finally gotten back to victory lane, it is safe to assume that it won't take another 218 races to do it again.
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