At Furniture Row Racing's media session Tuesday, driver Martin Truex Jr. was represented by a full-color, full-size cardboard stand-up.

Why? Because Truex was on the Caribbean Island of Anguilla, vacationing with family and friends.

Truex had booked and paid for his hotel before he knew the dates of the Media Tour, so he appeared at the press session via Skype, with palm trees and blue skies in the background -- in sharp contrast to the severe winter weather approaching Charlotte.

Truex seemed just as far removed from the media proceedings.

"Honestly, I'm just worried about getting a sunburn," he quipped.

But the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet does look at his current ride as a new beginning. He left Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of the season after the organization's attempt to manipulate the outcome of the September race at Richmond led to a penalty that knocked Truex out of a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

"I've been fortunate enough to be in the Chase a few times," Truex said. "And I've been unfortunate enough to be kicked out before. This year, I think we're going to be a strong contender, as far as getting in there."