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Martin Truex Jr. encouraged by team’s performance, unconcerned with NASCAR penalties

An eventful start to the season has seen Truex nearly win the Daytona 500 and his crew chief earn a one-race suspension for consecutive rules violations.

Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

An off-season manufacturer change had Martin Truex Jr. figuring it would be a few months before Furniture Row Racing could replicate the form that nearly won them the 2015 championship.

But through two races Truex and Furniture Row have quickly acclimated to being a Toyota-backed team. Truex finished second in the season-opening Daytona 500 by one-hundredth of a second to Denny Hamlin, then followed with a strong seventh at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

It's a similar performance level Truex displayed in rolling off 14 top-10 finishes to start last season, eventually advancing to the championship playoff round while driving a Chevrolet.

"We've got an awesome team," Truex said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "I can't say enough about them and what they do and what they've done this offseason to prepare.

"We really have a good chemistry. We have that trust and belief in each other. When I ask my guys about something, I know they're going to figure out how to get it to me. It's just really fun to go to the race track and work together like that as a team and have that confidence in each other. Honestly I've never had a team where I felt more confident in them."

But while Truex has been excellent on the track in 2016, Furniture Row has come under scrutiny in the aftermath of technical violations found on the No. 78 car in consecutive races.

Prior to Daytona 500 time trials, officials noticed the right roof flap was amiss and forced the team to resubmit its car for inspection. NASCAR then temporarily impounded the car, before allowing Truex to race in his Duel qualifier. Crew chief Cole Pearn was later placed on probation until Dec. 31.

Another roof flap violation was discovered before the Atlanta event, this time earning Pearn a one-race suspension and a $50,000 fine. Because Furniture Row is appealing the penalty Pearn remains eligible until a final decision is rendered.

If the appeal fails, Truex doesn't think it will impact the team as Pearn would have to miss just a single event and not multiple weeks. A hearing date has not yet been set.

"From Cole's side, I think he's a bit frustrated from how it went down, which is understandable," Truex said. "I think people in the garage area talk and he feels like, ‘Do people really think I'm stupid enough after what happened at Daytona to try to pull something on NASCAR in the same area?' He's a little frustrated by that side of it."

Furniture Row described the Atlanta infraction as a "safety issue," not anything related to performance. And Truex is quick to dismiss any notion his team is getting a reputation for working outside NASCAR's rulebook.

"It's not like we were trying to pull something over on somebody," Truex said. "At the end of the day, we raced Atlanta without any issues. We obviously had a fast car and very competitive day on the race track."