By Aaron Burns
Sunday’s FedEx 400 at Dover Int’l Speedway marked the first time I’ve been reminded of a 60-year-old television show while watching a live NASCAR race.
But it happened, and it wasn’t because Darrell Waltrip mentioned it.
Martin Truex Jr.’s name was atop the standings for 131 laps on Sunday, but for the 59th straight race, he didn’t end up the winner. Seeing Truex come so close again, I couldn’t help but think of Ralph Kramden’s iconic character from The Honeymooners. He’d often yell to his wife, “One of these days Alice, one of these days!”
Kramden meant it as an empty threat. Unfortunately for Truex, it’s been his reality so far this season: Always in contention, but never in victory lane.
His results are excellent: Twelve top-10 finishes in 13 races. All but seven laps completed.
Truex has led 389 laps this season, which is an impressive number on its own. Three-hundred fifty-seven of those have come in the last three races.
Truex’s finishes in those three starts: Ninth, fifth and sixth. It’s as if his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet SS is allergic to victory lane.
He’s lost races because of ill-timed cautions, late-race passes and fuel mileage issues.
It has to be his turn at some point, right?
Having the No. 78 car at the front of the pack was a novelty at the beginning of the season. It’s a surprise if it’s not there now.
This is the same team and the same driver who led a whopping one lap last season. One. He had one top-five and five top-10 finishes in 36 races.
Furniture Row has seen Truex and its previous driver, Kurt Busch, routinely finish up front but not win. The team hasn’t won since 2011 with Regan Smith, but righting the ship after last year has been a win in itself.
“There’s no comparison, where we are this year compared to last year,” Truex said. “I’m always so optimistic about the weekend coming up.”
That optimism will be surely rewarded soon.
One of these days, it has to happen.
One of these days…