When Martin Truex Jr. got back to his trailer after winning Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Toyota/SaveMart 350 race at Sonoma Raceway in California, the Stafford Township native had a lot of congratulatory messages waiting for him.
"I had 131 texts, 16 or 17 voicemails and 15 emails," Truex said with a laugh Tuesday on a conference call. "Not to mention my Twitter page was locked up. I'm still trying to get through to see what everybody wrote. This week has been a lot of fun. I haven't stopped smiling since Sunday."
Truex did manage to read and respond to a few of the Tweets from his 160,090 followers, including one from one of his favorite NFL players.
An avid Philadelphia Eagles fan who visits training camp almost every summer, Truex stared at his phone and saw a message from former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins.
"Big Ups to @MartinTruexJr56 on the Win bro!!!," Dawkins wrote. "#doinitBIG".
Truex immediately answered: "Awesome man thank you!!!!"
The last few days have been a whirlwind for Truex, whose victory on Sonoma's road course snapped a 218-race winless streak that dated back to his first NASCAR Sprint Cup triumph at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in June of 2007.
Upon flying back to his home in Mooresville, N.C., he hosted a party for family and friends that included parents Martin Sr. and Linda, and younger brother Ryan, who just signed a multi-year deal to join the development program with Richard Petty Motorsports.
Martin Jr. is in his fourth season with Michael Waltrip Racing and drives the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota.
He said he's also heard from quite a few boyhood friends from his hometown of Mayetta in Stafford Township.
"Everybody seems pretty excited about what's going on," Truex said. "Although some people didn't actually see me win. Some people turned (the race) off and walked away with 10 (laps) to go because they didn't want to jinx it.
"This week's been fun, I'm not going to lie. On Monday morning, I even looked at my phone to make sure that it actually happened and I wasn't dreaming. It's been way too long since I felt this good."
Among the well-wishers was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had a lengthy text conversation with Truex when he finally arrived back in North Carolina at 3 a.m. Monday morning. Truex won a pair of Nationwide Series championships driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc., and he and Earnhardt were Cup teammates at DEI for two full seasons.
"I can't really talk about what all we said to each other, but he was pretty impressed," Truex said. "He said, 'Do you believe you just won at Sonoma? I tell everybody how good you are, and then you go win at the hardest place on the circuit.' "
Truex viewed the victory as a reward for perseverance and patience both by him and his crew, including crew chief Chad Johnston. Although Truex had experienced victory once before in his career, Sunday's win was a first for some members of his team.
"All those guys have done such a great job of keeping us competitive week in and week out," Truex said. "Our season has been kind of up and down, but one thing has been consistent and that is the race car has been fast. It's definitely nice to see us reap the rewards of that."
The win boosted Truex's chances of making the Chase for the Championship. He now sits in 10th place in points, moving up three spots and only one point behind ninth place Brad Keselowski, the defending Sprint Cup champion.
Truex had experienced his share of disappointment and frustration during his racing career. His win at Dover six years ago was followed by six second-place finishes. This season, he has earned four top-five finishes and seven top-10s.
A blown engine two weeks ago cost him a shot at winning at Dover, which he considers his home track and one of his favorites. He actually had his doubts about Sunday's race after qualifying 14th and enduring an electrical fire in the car Friday.
"There were times when I wondered when I was going to win again, but I never questioned if I would ever win again," Truex said. "There were times when we didn't do anything wrong during a race, but it just wasn't meant to be. We would do everything right, but the stars just didn't line up. It's so difficult to win races at this level. It takes so many things to go right.
"But my confidence never wavered. I've always known what I can do in a race car and I'm thankful that I was able to prove it and get the deal done."
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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