The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Unlikely Champions

Unlikely Champions, From Underdogs to the Top Dogs

BY Chris Stevens

@CtsRacing78

How could a small team based all the way out in Denver Colorado and a guy from New Jersey become the 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series Champions?

Luck? Determination? Persistence?

Maybe a little of all of the above, but this team and driver have come so far in a sport dominated by mega teams to win 7 races during the season and obliterated the new stage racing format. The team has overcame adversity over the years by maintaining their vision of competing against the juggernauts by hiring various drivers at just the right moment to make gains here and there. The team has had such drivers as Jerry Robertson, Sterling Marlin, Jimmy Spencer, Travis Kvapil, Scott Wimmer, and Joe Nemechek but with very minimal success. Finally Regan Smith left his mark with the team by winning the Southern 500 at the legendary Darlington Speedway in 2011. Kurt Busch made a stop with the team for 2013 season showing signs of competitiveness and potential with the team’s first appearance in the Chase, this also marked the first time a single car operation made the Chase.

Martin Truex Jr. was named the driver for the #78 beginning in 2014, the team had a rough year and struggled. 2015 saw the replacement of Todd Berrier as crew chief with Cole Pearn taking the reins on top of the pit box, the new crew chief and driver combination worked very well. The 2015 season was filled with accomplishments and many disappointments because of shear bad luck, the team was strong with another spot in the Chase and the driver finally showed his true potential with a win at Pocono. There was still something missing and over the offseason team owner Barney Visser announced a partnership with Toyota and Joe Gibbs which gave the team four wins in 2016 giving the rest of the completion a notice that they would be a force to be reckoned with next season.

2017 would become a year filled with tears of joy and tears of sorrow, as triumph and tragedy would visit the team many times to challenge their resolve. Truex’s longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex battled ovarian cancer once again receiving chemotherapy throughout the season, leaving Martin visibly shaken, alone and emotional at times in Victory Lane. The team lost one of their own at Kansas when Jim Watson passed away from a heart attack, the team responded with a win and dedicated it to their fallen brother. Crew Chief Col Pearn also lost Jacob Damen , who was a lifelong friend just four days before the team went to victory lane at Watkins Glen. Coming into the final race at Homestead in Miami, the team had amassed six wins, 19 top five finishes, 3 poles and 19 stage wins. The team from Denver won the race and the Championship by leading a perfectly fitting 78 laps. Adding to the dramatic season story of triumph, team owner Barney Visser was recovering from open heart surgery back in Denver and couldn’t join his team on the big stage but seeing Martin Truex Jr, his girlfriend and his team hoisting that huge trophy had to be one of the most inspiring moments in NASCAR history.

[Photo: Martin Truex Twiiter]

Unlikely Champions, From Underdogs to the Top Dogs
Copyright GoLong Media & The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Unlikely Champions, From Underdogs to the Top Dogs

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