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Martin Truex Jr.'s confidence grows with team even after penalty

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

HAMPTON, GA - FEBRUARY 28: Martin Truex Jr, driver of the #78 Furniture Row Toyota, leads Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 28, 2016 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)

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Martin Truex Jr. says he has something special with his Furniture Row Racing team.

“Honestly I’ve never had a team where I felt more confident in them,’’ Truex said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “I think most importantly, I’ve never had a team where I felt that in return, where they felt like I was the best guy for them and they wouldn’t want anyone else in their car. Just that relationship makes it so much easier to go to work and work on cars and figure out how to make them go fast.”

Truex is in his 11th season in Sprint Cup and third with Furniture Row Racing. He made it to the championship race at Miami last year but finished fourth among the final four title contenders.

Truex opened this season by losing the Daytona 500 by one-hundredth of a second to Denny Hamlin. Truex responded by finishing seventh last weekend at Atlanta. That put him second in the standings until NASCAR docked him 15 points, suspended crew chief Cole Pearn one race and fined Pearn $50,000 after a roof flap violation was discovered in inspection before the Atlanta race. The penalty dropped Truex to eighth in the updated standings.

The infraction was discovered a week after NASCAR placed Pearn on probation for a roof flap violation discovered before Truex’s qualifying attempt at Daytona International Speedway.

Furniture Row Racing is appealing the Atlanta penalty. Pearn’s suspension is deferred until the appeal hearing, allowing him to be at Las Vegas this weekend. A date has not been announced for the hearing.

“At the end of the day, we raced Atlanta without any issues,’’ Truex said. “We obviously had a fast car and very competitive day on the race track. I’m just really looking forward to continuing that today. I’ll let the team figure out that side of things and do my job this weekend.

“From Cole’s side, I think he’s a bit frustrated from how it went down, which is understandable. I think people in the garage area talk and he feels like, ‘Do people really think I’m stupid enough after what happened at Daytona to try to pull something on NASCAR in the same area?’ He’s a little frustrated by that side of it, but at the same time, being it’s a safety issue, it’s really a big deal to figure out exactly how it all happened. Figure out how to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

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