Notes of Interest
● Truex and the No. 19 Toyota Camry team for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) set the tone for the season right out of the gate by winning the 150-lap feature in the non-points Clash at the Coliseum on Feb. 5. Truex won his heat race, then went on to lead the final 25 laps of the feature en route to the victory.
● Truex has three wins, nine top-five finishes and 16 top-10s and has led a total of 1,285 laps in 33 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond. Truex’s average Richmond finish is 15.7.
● Truex notched his more recent Richmond win in September of 2021 when he led 80 laps enroute to his third victory at Richmond. All three of Truex’s Richmond wins have come in a JGR car. In fact, over the course of the last 13 races at Richmond, Truex has only finished outside the top-10 once.
● Over the course of this last seven races at Richmond, Truex has amassed six top-five finishes, which included the aforementioned three victories over this time period.
● Laps Lead: Of all the active tracks the Cup Series races on, Truex has led the most laps at Richmond with 1,295. The next closest track as far as laps lead for Truex is Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway with 1,059 laps led there.
● Ahead at this Stage: Truex leads the NASCAR Cup Series with 56 stage wins since the beginning of the stage era in 2017. He is the only driver with 10 or more stage sweeps, as well. While Truex came close to winning a stage at the season-opening Daytona 500, he does not have a stage win so far this year. Last weekend at Las Vegas, Truex finished sixth and fourth, respectively, in the opening two stages and collected valuable points that could prove important at the end of the regular season.
● With his 17th-place finish at Circuit of Americas last weekend, Truex heads to Richmond eighth in the standings with 165 points, 46 out of the lead, as the Cup Series heads to its first point-paying short track race of the season.
Martin Truex Jr., Driver of the No. 19 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry TRD
Did Richmond go from towards the bottom to towards the top of tracks you like once you had some success there?
“I’ve always really liked it to be honest. From the first time I raced there in 2003 I’ve always enjoyed the track. There was a long period where I didn’t have great numbers there, but I felt like I loved the track and always ran well there and had a lot of crazy things happen there throughout my career. Once I got to Furniture Row we started leading a ton of laps there. We also had a couple of heartbreaking finishes there where we should have won the race but didn’t and I wondered if it was ever going to happen. Then we went on a streak there, so it’s been a great track and it’s a ton of fun. I’m curious to see how it works out with the new short track package that NASCAR has come up with. Last year the short tracks were tough to make passes and we would get stuck a car length behind someone. You would run them down and get a car length back and you couldn’t makes any moves because of the dirty air. Hopefully we’ve been able to help that some and we can go back to putting on a great show at places like Richmond and I hope for myself and my team we can get our Auto Owners Insurance Toyota back in victory lane there like we’ve done before.”
With the success there, what are the challenges racing at Richmond?
“I love the track, it’s great. Been very successful there, especially lately with our Auto-Owners Insurance Camry. Been lucky enough to win some races there. I really enjoy the track because it’s kind of unique. It’s a short track, but it races like a bigger track than it is. You can really move around there the way the tires wear out and the track is really slippery that makes it fun and a challenge and always a good race for the fans."
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 the shifting and with how the brakes are on these cars it’s so different than it was before. I think shifting has been the biggest difference but you have the braking to go along with that. Then you have the independent rear suspension and the differential and all those things go along with each other to what we have now. We almost have more than the brakes and tires can even take, so it’s been tough to try and modulate that and try not to lock up the rear tires was a challenge. This is the first true short with the downforce taken off, so we’ll see if that has helped some of that or not and what we need to work on with our Auto Owners Insurance Camry this weekend at Richmond.”
You had a chance to race with the new short track package at Phoenix. What did it feel like there and how might it apply to Richmond this weekend?
“A little bit slicker, a little bit slower in general. Basically, using a little more brake and a little less throttle – slower mid-corner speeds and a little bit more slipping and sliding. With the other package, I felt like when you got behind another car and you lose the nose super bad, and you can’t get close to them. Obviously at Phoenix we were way off and just never really had the track position that we needed. Just felt overall like I was more balanced, but I was never really close to any of the leaders in that race, so hopefully we take a lot what we learned to do, and not to do, at Phoenix and apply that to Richmond this weekend with our Auto-Owners Insurance Camry.”