Notes of Interest

● Truex has two top-five finishes, four top-10s and has led a total of 287 laps in 33 career NASCAR Cup Series starts on Bristol’s concrete surface. Truex’s average Bristol finish is 20.7.

● No More Dirt: After three years of covering the half-mile concrete oval with dirt for the Bristol’s spring race, NASCAR’s top series has elected to go back to the concrete surface for both races this year at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Truex brought home a solid seventh-place finish in last spring’s final race on Bristol’s dirt surface.

● Toyota Up Front: With five different Toyotas each leading 50 laps or more in last Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway, it marked the first time in NASCAR history that a manufacturer had five cars leading 50 or more laps in the same race. Truex contributed 55 of those laps led as each of the four Joe Gibbs Racing entries led 50 or more laps in a single race for the first time in NASCAR’s top series. Toyotas combined to lead 298 of the 312 race laps at Phoenix.

● Looking for 35: Truex’s win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon last July was his most recent Cup Series win, the 34th of his career, tying him with 2004 Cup Series champion Kurt Busch for 25th on the all-time Cup Series win list.

● Ahead at this Stage: Truex has accumulated 61 stage wins since the beginning of the stage era in 2017. He is the only driver with 10 or more stage sweeps, with his latest sweep coming at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn last August.

● With his seventh-place finish at Phoenix last weekend, Truex heads to Bristol third in the standings with 141 points, 10 behind leader Ryan Blaney as the Cup Series heads to its first true short track of the season.

Martin Truex Jr., Driver of the No. 19 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry XSE

What are your thoughts on racing at Bristol?

“Bristol hasn’t been my favorite place, but we’ve had some good runs there, too. I think we’ve been competitive there over the years. It’s a place that’s tight and things happen fast there, so you have to be on your toes. Always really excited to be a part of how great the crowd is there, and the fans love that place. Hoping we can have a strong run there for them and try to finally get a win there with our Auto-Owners Insurance Camry. We’ll see how it plays out.”

With the new body on the Toyotas, has your team been paying any particular attention to the new parts of the bodywork?

“No, not really. The team is just trying to figure it out the best and quickest they can and figure out how to have a car capable of winning. We’ve really started the season off strong and consistent. We’ve had really good speed every week, I think top-five speed in every race I feel like so far, and maybe a little closer than that last week when we were at our best. We are getting where we need to be, just need to capitalize a little more, but as far as the car – when you are in them, they all feel the same. It is just the setup and the things the guys are working on that can make such a difference. You can’t say, ‘Wow, this body is so much better than last year’s.’ Really hard to tell a big difference right now only a couple of races in. We have a lot more data points to put in the old notebook.”

How has the NextGen car changed your approach to short tracks?

“Short tracks were a challenge last year for us. It was a lot harder to pass than years past, for sure. With how the brakes are on these cars, it’s so different than it was before. Then you have the independent rear suspension and the differential and all those things go along with each other as far as what we have now. I think we made a lot of gains last year and I would like to think we have already made more this year. Bristol not being the short-track package we started using at Phoenix, it’s a bit of a different animal and we’ll see where we are at this weekend. We almost have more than the brakes and tires can even take, so it’s been tough to try and modulate that, and to try not to lock up the rear tires was a challenge. We’ll see if we can’t have a strong run with our Auto-Owners Insurance Camry and keep making gains on it.”

Is the competition as close as it’s ever been?

“Ever since we went to the NextGen car, everything has been closer, and you can see that in the standings, as well – it’s pretty tight. It is harder to find an advantage, it’s harder to run at the front every week consistently. Everything is tighter, closer together, less room for error, and you really have to be on top of things. Things happen fast at Bristol, so it makes for an exciting race for the fans.”

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