Notes of Interest

● Where We Stand: The New Jersey native heads to Kansas Speedway in Kansas City second in the driver standings with 395 points, 15 behind leader Kyle Larson. Three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) entries are currently inside the top-10 in the standings heading to the 12th points race of the season, with Denny Hamlin fourth and Ty Gibbs eighth.

● Up Front: All four JGR Toyota Camry XSE drivers are among the leaders in total laps led this season. Larson’s 570 laps tops the list for the Cup Series, followed by Hamlin (535), Truex (437) and Gibbs (201) in second, third and fourth, respectively. Bell is 10th on the list with 120 laps led.

● Truex has two wins, 10 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and has led a total of 906 laps in 31 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Kansas. Truex’s average Kansas finish is 12.9.

● Strong in the Heartland: Truex’s two Kansas wins came by way of a season sweep of the spring and fall races there in 2017. The feat kicked off a 13-race stretch on the 1.5-mile oval during which he earned six top-fives and finished inside the top-10 all but once.

● While he doesn’t like to play favorites, Truex certainly excels at tracks with worn-out surfaces, where driver skill is key to managing the tires and the racecar over the course of a long race. At four such tracks, Kansas, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, and Homestead-Miami Speedway, Truex has notched six wins, 23 top-five finishes and 45 top-10s, and has led 2,209 laps. After Kansas this weekend, the Cup Series will race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway next week.

● 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 63 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. Truex scored his second stage win of the season at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway last weekend, leading the field across the line at the end of Stage 1.

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

You have had success at Kansas Speedway over the years, but your most recent visit turned out to be a challenge. Can you talk a little bit about what it takes to have a solid day there?

“Yeah, for sure. I felt really good about our car there last year, but it didn’t last very long with the tire issue. Kansas (Speedway) is a really fun racetrack. It’s a place where you can move around.The tires wear out and it gets slippery. It’s just a fun place to race and we’re looking forward to it with our Auto-Owners Insurance Camry. At the same time, I think it’s a real measuring stick of your cars and where you’re at. It takes everything to get around there. You have to have horsepower and downforce, a good setup with a lot of tire grip and things like that. It’s a big challenge and usually the guys that have the fastest cars are up front there, so hopefully we’ll be one of those guys because it seems like our Camrys have been really strong this year.”

You head to Kansas this weekend looking for the first win of the season. What will it take to break through and get that first win of 2024?

“Building on what we’ve done so far this year, I feel like Kansas is one of those places that has always suited my style. It’s a place you can move around, it gets really slick and there’s a lot of tire falloff. I really enjoy that. As good as our cars have been lately, I feel good about our chances that we’ll go there and have race-winning speed. And then it’s all about execution, which we are working on right now. If we can have a straightforward strategy race and good pit stops, I think we are going to be in the mix at Kansas, for sure.”

What is racing at Kansas like, and what other track is most similar?

“I would say Kansas is a lot like Homestead but with a tri-oval. Similar corners and a little bit of progressive banking. The wall has really come into play the last couple of years there since the asphalt has worn out. So, running high is very important there, and also momentum is very important at Kansas. You have a big, wide, front straightaway that gives you the option to make big bold moves on the restarts where it can get pretty wild there. Kansas is definitely high on my list of places I like to race, and we are hoping for a great weekend there with our Auto-Owners Insurance Camry.”

There’s a lot of variety in the schedule now – you go from short tracks, to concrete, to road courses, and this week to a 1.5-mile oval. How do you take on the challenge of the variety of tracks you go to in the Cup Series?

“I feel like the schedule nowadays is all over the place with all the variety we have, it’s just that every week is so different and you have to do your homework and study and think back to last year and past races just to remind ourselves. We have really short practices now, so you don’t get a lot of time to get dialed in and get comfortable, and not getting in that rhythm and just getting the car dialed in. We don’t have a lot of time and we need to show up and be ready to go. For the most part, I’ve been doing to these tracks for quite a while, now, and you lean on that past experience a lot.”