If you were to rank all of the sports where a New Jersey native might become the best in the world, where would you have put NASCAR?
Just a guess: It would be somewhere below baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, bowling, track and field, gymnastics, fencing, badminton, archery, polo, lacrosse, swimming, volleyball, table tennis, skiing, snowboarding, sumo wrestling, jolleyball, mud wrestling, thumb wrestling and roller derby, and slightly above quidditch and podracing.
Alas, here we are, in 2017. The greatest NASCAR driver in the world is Martin Truex Jr., a 37-year-old from the Mayetta section of Stafford Township. How small is Mayetta? It might be four or five blocks along Route 9 in Ocean County, so tiny that even the Wikipedia entry is tiny.
Still: The most dominant driver in stock car racing -- and, let's face it, it wasn't even close -- is a Jersey Guy who grew up racing go-karts on the Jersey Shore, a man who understands that the most challenging driving in the world involves lane changes and toll booths.
Truex is our choice as the 2017 New Jersey Sportsperson of the Year. As always, the winner faced some impressive competition, especially from high school track superstar Sydney McLaughlin (Dunellen) and emotional Yankees leader Todd Frazier (Toms River).
Few have accomplished more or represented our state better than Truex. What he did inside his No. 78 Toyota was more than enough, winning a career-best eight races and claiming the title with a memorable performance in the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
This was a popular victory. Truex had not only struggled on the race track, but he watched as his longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, bravely battled ovarian cancer while raising money and awareness for the disease.
Martin Truex Jr. is the New Jersey Sportsperson of the Year. If you thought this state would ever produce, of all things, the world's best NASCAR driver, congratulations, because other than the winner himself, you're the only one.
--- NJ.com ---