AutoMatters & More: NASCAR’s Martin Truex Jr. & “Sully”


NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Martin Truex Jr.

Rarely at the highest levels of professional motorsports does a driver merit and deserve such respect – not only as a fellow race car driver but also as a person – that in the closing laps of a major auto race one has the feeling that other drivers challenging for the win might be making an extra effort to race cleanly, so as to not risk contributing to a race-ending crash for that well-liked driver. Perhaps that is just wishful thinking on my part but Martin Truex Jr. seems to be such a driver, and this could describe the scenario at the end of last weekend’s “Southern 500” at storied Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.

Kevin Harvick – the leader of the most laps (214) in this very long race – mounted a strong challenge in the closing laps but came up just short. Truex led for only 28 laps, but these included the final and most important one as he took the checkered flag.

In victory lane and in the post-race interviews he was very emotional and appreciative of what he and his team had just accomplished, giving the team credit for their flawless pitwork.

36-year-old Martin Truex Jr. is the driver of the #78 Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He is having a dream season and is locked into the “Chase for the Sprint Cup” – a 10-race, elimination, playoffs-style shootout.

Currently ranked eighth, he qualified for the Chase by virtue of two Sprint Cup race wins, but he and his team are up against some of the biggest teams in NASCAR, including Team Penske (with Ford drivers Brad Keselowski and Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano), Chip Ganassi Racing (Michigan race winner Kyle Larson and veteran Jamie McMurray) and eleven-time champion Hendrick Motorsports (with drivers Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and ‘retired’ Jeff Gordon, substituting for many races this season for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr.). Think of the #78 team in a David versus Goliath kind of way.

Your encouragement and support could very well make the difference. Express that support at Martin’s official page on Facebook: Here is the message that I posted there for him:

“Martin, congratulations on winning the Southern 500. I honestly believe that despite your team’s modest resources as compared to those of Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and the other big teams, you do have a legitimate chance to win this year’s Sprint Cup. You have earned a lot of support – from fans and other drivers alike – due to your talent as a racing driver and, just as importantly, due to your hard-earned and well deserved reputation as a humble, supremely talented driver who has overcome significant adversity in your life with an uncommonly high degree of class and integrity. All of that and more is a subject of my “AutoMatters & More” column #453 this week. I wish you well.”


“Sully” is the breathtaking, fact-based story about the famous January 15, 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson.” It recounts Captain “Sully” Sullenberger’s fateful and almost unbelievably successful ditching of a large passenger airliner (US Airways Flight 1549) with no loss of any of its 155 lives in New York’s frigid Hudson River – after multiple bird strikes seconds after takeoff took out both of the plane’s engines. That left “Sully” piloting what was essentially a glider, with only seconds to figure out what to do and then act. He quickly determined that landing at either New York City’s LaGuardia Airport or at Teterboro Airport were not options, leaving the Hudson River as the closest thing to a flat surface for setting the aircraft down. Tom Hanks’ portrayal of the heroic Captain “Sully” Sullenberger was masterful.

One might wonder how a feature length movie would be made about an event that lasted less than half an hour. Backgrounds of several of the passengers; actual and recreated footage of the plane’s ditching in the Hudson; the congratulatory responses of passengers, crew and people at large; and the critical National Transportation Safety Review Board’s proceedings were all masterfully interwoven in a movie that left this reviewer almost holding my breath for much of its final hour.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, “Sully” goes well beyond what was widely reported in the media, exploring the investigation by the NTSB into the ditching.

“Sully” is in theaters now. Do not miss it.

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Copyright © 2016 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #453