LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. slapped the top of his No. 78 Chevrolet, thrust his right fist toward the sky and bounded straight into his girlfriend’s arms.
They hugged, kissed and Truex lifted her into the air.
Truex has stood by Sherry Pollex’s side through her fight with ovarian cancer. Pollex was strong for Truex when his career was in flux following a scandal that cost him a shot at a championship and his ride.
Sunday at Pocono Raceway, they were set for an overdue celebration.
Truex led the most laps for the fourth straight race, only this time he was in front on the one that mattered most, breaking through for his first Sprint Cup victory since 2013.
“This is easily the biggest win of my career,” Truex said.
Truex won the race and NASCAR’s version of a popularity contest in victory lane. Rival drivers, owners, crew members popped by for high-fives and congratulatory messages. Dale Earnhardt Jr. hugged Pollex. Jimmie Johnson fist-bumped Truex.
“He’s had more to overcome personally and professionally than probably anybody sitting in that seat right now,” Johnson said.
Truex and Pollex, a couple since 2005, have endured their share of personal and professional heartache over the last 18 months. Pollex, was diagnosed with cancer last summer and she had various organs removed, including her ovaries, fallopian tubes and part of her stomach.
Furniture Row owner Barney Visser told Truex he could sit out the rest of the season following Pollex’s diagnosis and still keep his ride for 2015. Truex, though greatly appreciative, declined the offer. Truex found the track therapeutic and kept him focused on something other than her disease.
But he was always a steady support system for Pollex.
“She showed me what she was made of,” Truex said.
Pollex tweeted a selfie with Truex and the Pocono trophy from victory lane that said, “Chemo Monday victory lane Sunday.”
“It never gets any better than this,” Truex said. “It takes time to heal things, especially with what Sherry and I went through. This makes you forget all about it. Sherry’s here healthy and she’s as excited as I am.”