HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Martin Truex Jr.’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship run certainly was among the most emotional, feel-good moments in NASCAR history.
The juxtaposition between relief and happiness was unmistakable.
As the 37-year-old driver stood on stage alongside his crew chief Cole Pearn and longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who is battling ovarian cancer, Truex wiped away tears in between public address, television and radio interviews — understandably caught up in the emotional triumph of hoisting his first Cup trophy, and the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup.
And just behind them on another stage, his Furniture Row Racing team celebrated heartily — their arms in the air, shouting and cheering — so appreciative of the moment. A fan was invited to stand on the corner of the stage alongside the team members to hoist a homemade, blown-up head shot of team owner Barney Visser, who couldn’t travel to the race as he recovered from a heart attack and bypass surgery two weeks ago.
This little team that could … did.
Hailing all the way from humble Denver headquarters in a warehouse located in the industrial corner of the city — a setting far away and far different from NASCAR’s more traditional Southeastern corridor — these team members have operated in the ultimate racing anomaly. Their race shop is completely under the radar, but their accomplishments are regular front-page news.
And now, the result is the most cherished trophy in NASCAR.
“This means the world,” Truex said, emotional in the car as he circled the track to begin his formal celebration.
“I couldn’t even talk,” he said. “I was a wreck thinking about all the tough days, the bad days, the times where I thought my career was over with, the times when I didn’t think anyone believed in me. But the guys who mattered did — my fans, my family and then when I got with this team.
“They are unbelievable and they resurrected my career and made me a champion.”