Sunday afternoon, Martin Truex Jr. will be inside his No. 78 car and hitting the turns at Homestead Miami Speedway, searching for his first ever NASCAR Monster Energy Series championship. At the same time, his biggest fan will be rooting him on while she fights a battle bigger than anything he will see on the track.
Truex Jr. and his girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, have been together since 2005 when he was winning championships in what is now the Xfinity Series. Over the last 12 seasons, Truex Jr. has brought home 14 wins – including seven this season alone and 12 since the 2015 season started – and finished in the top 10 almost 160 times.
Still, his success has come since the shocking 2014 diagnosis that Pollex had stage III ovarian cancer. Extensive chemotherapy put it in remission before doctors a tumor the size of a ping-pong ball in her spleen. She had her spleen removed just days before Truex Jr. won this year’s race in Kentucky.
“I think the race track is a good place to go to kind of forget about all your troubles. You go there, perform well and it makes everything better,” Pollex told NASCAR.com in September, after she was with Truex Jr. has he won at Chicago to start the playoffs and the race for a championship.
Pollex has created a website where she updates fans about her medical condition and says she has felt the love and support from NASCAR fans during this difficult time.
“I kind of feel like that’s the path God has put me on. Everyone is dealing with a struggle or something going on in their life. No one’s life is perfect. I just put it all out there and hope it inspires or helps someone,” Pollex said.
At the same time, Truex Jr. hopes to put a smile on his longtime girlfriend’s face with a championship this weekend – even if he doesn’t know how he will react should he win the title.
"I don't even know if I can comprehend (what that would mean) to win a championship. I don't even have the words yet. I'd rather not think about it until we get to that point,” he said during Thursday’s media day in Miami Beach.
Truex Jr. and the other three drivers racing for a title will take the green flag in the Ford EcoBoost starting at 3 p.m., which can be seen on NBC 6.