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Martin Truex Jr. focused more on leading laps, wins than next contract

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart - Practice

SPARTA, KY - JULY 13: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway on July 13, 2018 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

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SPARTA, Kentucky — Reigning Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. said “I don’t plan on doing anything different” but added that details with Furniture Row Racing have to be worked out to extend his contract.

Truex’s contract ends after this season. The team announced in August 2016 an extension for Truex through this season. With that timetable approaching, where is Truex with a new contract?

“We’ve got some stuff to figure out, for sure,” Truex said Friday at Kentucky Speedway. “I don’t plan on doing anything different. Just give the team some time to figure things out. We’re all kind of trying to figure it all out together so we can make it happen.”

So what does a driver and team need to figure out after having won last year’s title and 11 of the last 54 races?

“Just sponsorship commitments and all the stuff that goes along with that,” Truex said. “Figuring out how much money we have to spend, when do we get it, how much are we getting and where can we spend it. Just trying to figure out all the details honestly. There’s a lot of puzzle pieces to be put together that we haven’t finished yet. Honestly, we haven’t been in a big hurry to get it done. In due time.”

Truex’s main concern is scoring more playoff points. With his three wins and three stage victories, Truex has 18 playoff points. He trails Kyle Busch (30 playoff points) and Kevin Harvick (27) in that category.

“I think it goes without saying that everybody knows that you want as many as you can get,” Truex said. “In our case last year, we got a lot of points and won a lot of stages because we were fast and were leading a lot of laps. Everybody is still trying to win as many stages as they can. We’re doing the same things we did last year, we just haven’t won as many.

“It’s just the playoffs, with the format the way it is, the elimination races, it just scares everybody to death. I’ll be honest, you want as many playoff points as you can just in case you have something bad happen.

“In 2016, we blew up early in the race at Talladega and got knocked out of the second round when we felt like we were one of the strongest teams out there. Nobody is immune to a catastrophic failure and the possibility of being knocked out of the playoffs.”

Truex said another goal is to lead more laps. He’s led 390 laps to rank fourth in the series behind Harvick (1,040 laps led), Busch (948) and Ryan Blaney (463).

“For our team individually, I feel we need to be leading more laps, we need to be winning more stages,’’ Truex said. “I would like to have more bonus points going into the playoffs than we have right now, so that is the main focus for our team. A couple more wins along the way would be good. You want to keep the momentum going.”

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