Truex Jr. heads into Daytona 500 searching for missed hundredth of second

Martin Truex Jr. autographs helmets for race sponsor Monster Energy drink during NASCAR Daytona 500 media day at Daytona International Speedway, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – The finish to the 2016 Daytona 500 was historical.  Martin Truex Jr. has seen the replay over and over.

He was one-hundredth of a second from seeing his Daytona dreams come true, edged out at the last possible moment by Denny Hamlin.

“You know rather quickly. I realized it was a big moment and I knew right away ‘oh, I’m going to have to watch this replay for a long time.’  To be part of that story is special.  To be part of any huge story in Daytona is special.”

Truex isn’t haunted by losing the Great American Race.

Just weeks before the finish, Truex’s longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, announced she had completed chemotherapy treatments in her 15 month battle against stage three ovarian cancer.

Her diagnosis in 2014 coincided with tough times on the track for Truex.

At last year’s Coca Cola 600, Truex’s emotions were in the fast lane when he crossed the finish line first.

“It was definitely a special night. I think before I even took the checkered flag, I was thinking about, thinking about how much it was going to mean and what it was going to mean to us, because we had been through so much,” said Truex.

Truex had been a supporter of pediatric cancer research before Pollex got sick.  Each year, they host a children’s fashion show benefit where drivers and kids participate.  Last year, the couple raised more than $370,000.

“I mean it’s just, it’s definitely crazy to think that we just naturally gravitated towards this cause to help these kids and then for Sherry to get sick, it’s just its crazy how those two worlds kind of collide,” he said.

“It’s definitely given us a different perspective, a look, I guess, really into just how special the work is that we are doing and how much it means to us.”

Truex returns to Daytona this year in search of that extra hundredth of a second.

“It’s the race of all races.  I mean, the Daytona 500 is the one.  It is the race that everyone wants to win. It’s kind of like the green jacket of you know, golf.  That’s kind of our green jacket of Nascar, so it’s such a big part of our sport. It’s where our sport started.”