Martin Truex Jr. is determined not to let little ol’ Bristol Motor Speedway derail his strong start to the NASCAR Cup Series season.

Truex heads to the Tennessee short track for Sunday’s race sitting solidly in third place in the driver standings and has an average finish of 8.7.

However, he’s had no top-10 finishes at the 0.53-mile oval since taking third in April 2012. Along with some disappointing finishes there, he suffered a fractured wrist in a wreck during the August 2013 night race.

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“Bristol is Bristol, and you’re rarely going to beat the house,” Truex said in a statement from his team, Furniture Row Racing. “The track is known for its wild races, and it seems that I have been a magnet for trouble.

“Our recent record might not show it, but we do have a car that can compete and contend at the Bristol short track. We just need to be patient and stay out of the wrecks.”

Truex and his team also see Bristol as another chance to get their short-track program in line. On April 2, Truex finished 16th at Martinsville Speedway, the first short track on the schedule.

“We started off strong at Martinsville, winning the first stage, but didn’t finish strong. The next two weeks (Bristol and Richmond) will give us a good gauge on where we stand with our short track program,” said the former longtime resident of Mayetta in Stafford Township.

But coming off the two best seasons of his decadelong Cup career, Truex has positioned himself to be a championship contender again.

He won the Las Vegas race to all but assure himself a spot in the playoffs. Through seven of 36 races, he has earned four top-10s, including two top-fives. He has four stage wins, tops among all drivers, and has earned nine playoff bonus points.

“So far, pretty good,” said the driver of the No. 78 Toyota. “But we want to get into a consistent rhythm with all the different types of tracks. We had a variety of things happen to us this year — good breaks, bad breaks — but overall we have come out of the gate with a decent start. It was sure nice to get that win early in the season.”

Truex has competed in 22 Cup races at Bristol, earning two top-fives. His average starting position is 16.9, his average finish 20.9.

The Cup series was idle last week.

Truex in a truck

Younger brother Ryan Truex is a regular in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, but he will make use of an idle weekend to drive at Bristol in the K&N Pro Series East race at 4 p.m. Saturday.

The 24-year-old will drive the No. 11 Otics Chevrolet for Hattori Racing Enterprises, the team he also represents in the truck series.

Truex is a two-time K&N East champion, having won titles in 2009 and ’10. He has not competed in the regional NASCAR series since the second of his title seasons. He has raced in all three of NASCAR’s national series — Cup, Xfinity and trucks — since then.

The regional series season consists of 14 races, including a Sept. 16 stop at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville.

The truck series resumes May 12 at Kansas Speedway. Truex is 14th in the standings after three of 23 races.

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Contact: 609-272-7189 Twitter @ACPressCharles

I've worked at newspapers since 1985. Mostly in N.J., but with an eight-year pit stop in N.C. I've been at The Press since 1997.

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