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When it comes to Daytona, Martin Truex Jr. only cares about winning

Martin Truex Jr. discusses the strategic racing at the Daytona 500, his close calls in recent years at the race and more.

For Sunday’s Daytona 500, Martin Truex Jr. only cares about winning.

The defending Cup Series champion isn’t worrying about stages or any points that his Furniture Row Racing could win or lose during the 200-lap race at Daytona International Speedway.

“We’re going to try to keep ourselves positioned near the front of the field, that’s key No. 1,” Truex told NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan during Daytona 500 Media Day. “At least for me, the last couple of years coming down here, I never really thought of this as a points race or having to kick off the season on a high note or anything else. I mean, it’s nice to do that but I think this race is honestly all about winning. I don’t think it matters if you come out of this with good points or not. There’s plenty of time throughout the season to make those up.”

Last season, Truex dominated intermediate tracks, winning seven of his eight races on 1.5-mile track. That is a series record.

But he didn’t fare well at restrictor-plate tracks. The No. 78 Toyota earned a DNF in three of the four races from crashes and was able to finish 13th in the Daytona 500.

Truex has finished in the top five just three times in 51 starts on plate tracks.

One of those, in the 2016 Daytona 500, was the closest finish in the race’s history as he finished second to Denny Hamlin.

“I definitely feel like we’re getting closer,” Truex said. “We’re closer than anyone else that hasn’t won it, I guess you could say. I still don’t feel like I’ve got the restrictor plate stuff quite figured out. I don’t feel like it’s my strong suite. I feel like it’s my biggest weakness in racing throughout the season.”

Watch the whole interview above.