Notes of Interest
● Truex and the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops 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 in Los Angeles. Truex won his heat race, then went on to lead the final 25 laps of the feature en route to the victory.
● After his third-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway Sunday, Truex heads to Talladega fifth in the driver standings with 266 points, 36 out of the lead.
● Truex’s third-place run at Martinsville was his first top-five points-paying finish of the season. It was the 34th time in his career that he has in the third spot. His second-most common finish is sixth place, which he’s done 33 times. Truex has 31 career victories to his credit in NASCAR’s top series, which happens to be his third-most common finishing position during his career.
● In his 36 career Cup Series outings at Talladega, Truex has three top-five finishes, nine top-10s, and he’s led a total of 76 laps. His average Talladega finish is 21.2.
● Ahead at this Stage: Truex leads the NASCAR Cup Series with 56 stage wins since the beginning of the stage racing 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.
Martin Truex Jr., Driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD
You are aiming to get your first Talladega win. What do you work on leading into Talladega that you might not do other weeks?
“Talladega is a lot different than normal weeks. It’s a lot of strategy and a lot of talk with my teammates and trying to plan to work together to get to the end of that thing. It seems like every time we go back there it’s a little bit different. It’s changed a lot over the years and a lot in the past few. Last year with this new NextGen car, it was quite a bit different racing there. Still trying to figure out how to get that first win at Talladega. We’ve been close there before and ran really strong there last year with our Bass Pro Shops Camry, so juts looking to build on that and focus on what it’s going to take to try and get our first win there.”
A Talladega win would be your first on a superspeedway-style track – Daytona and Atlanta being the others on the current schedule. Is a superspeedway win something you would really like to have on your resume?
“I would like to, it’s something we put a lot of work and effort into. I would say it’s probably not my best style of racing, but I think Atlanta is our best opportunity currently. We’ve been really strong there. We just need to put it all together and make the right moves. For us, I think that we are always damaged, so if we can ever get to the end of one of those races and are at the front, we would have a chance. If we get that chance again, we need to be able to figure out how to make the right moves. Would love to be there at the end at Talladega this weekend and have a shot to win with our Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD.”
You are coming off your best finish of the season with your third-place run at Martinsville last weekend. How would you assess your season so far?
“It’s been a bit up and down for us this season. We started off with the win at the Clash, which was great. Since then, we’ve been up and down, but I feel like we are really close to doing some great things. Obviously we had a great run at Martinsville this last weekend, and we’ve been much better on the short tracks this year compared to last year. We’ve just got to figure out how to put all the pieces together. We had a good run at Richmond and things didn’t work out there, and a pretty good run at Bristol on the dirt, as well. We are just trying to build off that momentum from the last several weeks, and you never know what to expect going to Talladega for that crazy race.”
After running Daytona and Atlanta so far this season with the speedway package, what are your expectations for Talladega this weekend?
“I think it will be similar to Daytona. This car, for whatever reason, just likes to be two-wide, there never seems to be a third lane. There’s a lot of two-wide and a lot of track position – hard to make your way up through the field. You never know, though, it all depends on what everyone is wanting to do. How aggressive does everyone want to be, and will we have a chance at a third lane forming? I don’t know.”
Talladega has made some renovations in recent years to its fan amenities. How have you seen the track change in recent years?
“It’s cool because it’s a good fan experience at Talladega and that’s what it’s really all about, giving the fans something to do throughout the weekend when we are not racing. It’s a really cool setup for the fans. It’s cool that the fans can get up close to the cars now more than ever and they can check out what is going on. Always have a lot of great fan energy when we go to Talladega, for sure.”