Notes of Interest

● Truex is coming off his first top-five finish of the season with his runner-up result last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where he led eight times for a total of 54 laps. On the season, Truex has two other top-10 finishes in the five points-paying races contested.

● Truex has one top-10 finish in his first three races at Circuit of Americas (COTA) – a seventh-place finish in 2022.

● Road-Course Ace: Truex has a total of four wins, 14 top-five finishes, and 18 top-10s at the three permanent road-course venues on the Cup Series schedule – COTA, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. Three of those wins came at Sonoma and the other at Watkins Glen.

● Joe Gibbs Racing Dominance at Bristol: Led by Denny Hamlin’s first win of the season, all four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers had impressive outings at Bristol Sunday afternoon. In fact, JGR drivers led 383 of the 500 laps Sunday, with Hamlin pacing the field for 163 laps, Ty Gibbs leading 137 laps, Truex at the point for 54 laps, and Christopher Bell leading 29 laps. Hamlin and Truex finished first and second with the other two JGR drivers joining them in the top-10 – Gibbs ninth and Bell 10th.

● Up Front: JGR Toyota Camry XSE’s have dominated the competition in each of the last two Cup Series races with back-to-back victories. Bell won at Phoenix Raceway two weekends ago in lead-up to Hamlin’s victory Sunday at Bristol. Like Bristol, JGR drivers dominated the laps-led category at Phoenix, as well – a combined 230 of the 312 laps led. Combined with their 383 of the 500 laps led at Bristol, JGR drivers have led a whopping 613 of the 812 laps available at the last two events.

● 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 runner-up finish at Bristol last weekend, Truex heads to COTA technically second in the driver standings with 185 points, the same point total as Kyle Larson, who occupies the top spot by virtue of his win earlier this month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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

What are your thoughts headed to Austin this weekend based on what you had there last year, and what are you expecting for the first road course race of the year?

“COTA is a place that’s pretty fun for us, but last year we got up front there and got cleaned out, so our finish didn’t really show the effort and progress we made over the course of the weekend. I was definitely worried after practice – I was not feeling too good. Your hands are so tied to these things with these short practices. I’m looking forward to the extra track time on Saturday this weekend, even though we won’t be able to work on it after practice with anything drastic. We’ve learned so much over the last couple of years about this car and what it likes and what it doesn’t, so hoping we can come with a lot more knowledge than we had this time last year and get the car where we need it to have a shot to win and run up front all day long. Our new Camry has been strong so far this year and hoping we can continue what we’ve been doing at the road courses, as well. Looking forward to this weekend with our Bass Pro Shops Toyota team.”

What type of track causes the most chaos in the Cup Series these days?

“The obvious answer to most is the superspeedways and how things happen and how it can take out a lot of cars quickly. However, road-course restarts have become the next-craziest part of what we do. Looking back at last year, we crashed on one of the restarts with guys going five- and six-wide and guys trying to make up eight to 10 spots in one corner. I think that’s the biggest change in our sport the last few years.”

How has the level of parity changed?

“I think it has changed a lot since I’ve been here. I think the last few years with the NextGen car has been the biggest change, I would say. It has constantly evolved since I came into the sport as far as trying to tighten things up, but the NextGen car just has taken it to a new level. You are talking about everybody having the same parts and pieces, that’s never been a part of this sport. That’s definitely been the game changer.”

How has your preparation changed for this race through the years?

“It used to be we were on track a lot, practicing, and trying things with our car and changing parts and pieces, and now you go out there and kind of have what you have without a lot of practice. So, you look at a lot of analytics and studies of things that have been done, and aerodynamics and video, but it’s all kind of hands-off as far as driving the car and figuring things out that way. It’s changed a lot, for sure. This weekend, we have a bit more practice to work with at COTA, so anything we can get on track to help make our car better there, or for a future race, we’ll pore through any and all data we can to help make us better.”