Notes of Interest

● Prior to the 2022 season, the 1.5-mile Atlanta oval was repaved, its banking in the turns increased from 24 to 28 degrees, and the track reconfigured to vary from 40 to 55 feet. The frontstretch width is now 52 feet while the backstretch and turns are set at 42 and 40 feet wide, respectively. With the repave and reconfiguration, the racing at Atlanta was drastically changed and now more resembles racing at the superspeedways at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

● Looking for No. 1: Truex is still seeking his first Atlanta win, old configuration or new. Among his 28 starts at Atlanta, Truex has finished second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th in Cup Series races during his career at the 1.5-mile oval.

● Truex has six top-five finishes and 13 top-10s and has led a total of 388 laps in 28 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Atlanta. Truex’s average Atlanta finish is 15.6. In his last 13 races at Atlanta – 11 on the old surface and four since the repave and banking reconfiguration, Truex has scored six top-fives and 11 top-10s there.

● Ahead at this Stage: Truex leads the NASCAR Cup Series with 62 stage wins since the beginning of the stage era in 2017. He is the only driver with 10 or more stage sweeps with his most recent stage sweep at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn last August.

● With his 15th-place finish in Monday’s rain-delayed season opener at Daytona, Truex heads to Atlanta 16th in the standings with 24 points, 22 out of the lead.

Martin Truex Jr., Driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD

What is your relationship with crew chief James Small like, and how has it evolved over the years?

“It’s been fun. We joke and laugh about it sometimes, he’s high-strung and I get frustrated at times on the radio. I think we have a good relationship where we understand each other and we know our attitudes and how we work and the way we work together behind the scenes. And we are always pulling in the same direction all the time despite what we say on the radio at times. We both have our moments and maybe get too wound up, and we sort of make fun of it afterward and move on. I just really enjoy James’ work ethic and how hard he works and how bad he wants it, that’s what keeps us going.”

The JGR lineup has a different dynamic than a lot of other race teams with two veteran guys in Denny Hamlin and yourself, and two young guys in Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs. What is that dynamic been like and what do the young guys bring to the table?

“If you look at Christopher, you really can’t look at his age or how long he’s been around, you look at his last two seasons – they’ve been phenomenal. He hangs around all year long and then the playoffs start and every week he’s up front, on the pole, leading laps and in the conversation. A lot of that has to do with Adam (Stevens, No. 20 crew chief). He’s been a great crew chief for a long time and won championships, and he’s seen it all and has a lot of experience. I think those two make a great combination. It’s fun and interesting to hear and see Christopher’s comments and the way he approaches things. Then you throw Ty (Gibbs) in there, with last year being only his first year but a really impressive rookie year. He brings yet another thought process and approach to how we do things, so I think we all approach it a little differently, all of us. Even Denny and I, we do things a lot differently and talk about things and look for different things. We have a good mix of different guys who really add a lot and, when you mesh it all together, you really have good results.”

With the repaving and reconfiguration of the Atlanta oval in two years ago, would you qualify it as a superspeedway-style race, and what are the new challenges there because of those changes?

“It’s definitely a superspeedway-style race, no question about it. Last spring, we led some laps and we were leading there and had a late caution and restarted on the front row. We got a good shove down into (turn) one and (turn) two, and (Corey) Lajoie was leading the inside lane and got up inside of me, and Chase Elliott was stuck up in the middle of us and got us three-wide and got into me and shoved me up the hill and got me out of line, and that was it. Sort of what happens at those types of places – you can be in the best spot possible, but you have to count on other guys to help you and sometimes it just doesn’t work out. All I can do is hope we are in the same position this weekend with our Bass Pro Shops Camry TRD and maybe things will work out a little bit better in our favor and we can bring home the win.”

Did superspeedway racing change with the NextGen car the past two years?

“I think superspeedways probably haven’t changed much as opposed to some of the other types of tracks. Just the way you can bump draft with this car is totally different than the previous-generation cars. I think right now there are a lot more options as far as what lanes work. It used to be that you never wanted anyone on the outside, and now you can pass guys on the bottom a bit easier and that sets up some other opportunities. I feel like the racing has been fun on superspeedways, but you have to be really aggressive, as well.”