Auto-Owners Insurance Racing: Martin Truex Jr. St. Louis Advance

Notes of Interest


● Truex and the No. 19 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 a victory that gave him and the team much-needed momentum heading into the 2023 season. While the team was knocking on the door over the next 10 races, the breakthrough points-paying win finally came at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway in April.

32 and Counting: Truex’s win at Dover was the 32nd of his Cup Series career, putting him 29th on the series’ all-time wins list.


● During last year’s debut of the NASCAR Cup Series at World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR) in Madison, Illinois,  Truex and the No. 19 team ran well, leading 42 laps and bringing home a sixth-place finish.


Dazzling Debut: While last year’s race was the first time the Cup Series competed at WWTR, Truex has competed at the 1.25-mile, egg-shaped oval twice before in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, qualifying on the pole for both the May 2004 and 2005 races. He went on to win the 2004 race, leading 109 laps along the way.


Ahead at this Stage: Truex leads the NASCAR Cup Series with 57 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. Truex added to his haul of stage wins by taking the opening stage last month at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, a track similar in shape to WWTR.


● With his third-place finish at Charlotte Monday, Truex heads to WWTR fifth in the standings with 433 points, 13 points out of the lead. The top six in the Cup Series standings are separated by just 17 points as things start to heat up in the chase for the regular-season championship. The regular-season champion will receive 15 important playoff points when the playoffs start on Labor Day weekend in September. Twelve races remaining in the regular season.


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


What are your expectations heading into the second Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway?


“Last year, we were one of the best cars out there, along with Joey (Logano) and Kyle (Busch). We were up there and fighting for the lead a ton. It’s a place I’ve always liked, so we were able to get our car where we needed to fairly quickly with a full practice session and time to work on the car during the weekend. Hoping we can pick back up where we left off there. St. Louis is flat like Phoenix, but it’s a lot more worn out. Hoping we can have another strong effort there with our Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry TRD and be up front toward the end and have a shot to win there.”


With another strong run at Charlotte Monday, what are your expectations going forward with this team?


“We had a great run at Charlotte, just had too many issues that we’ll need to keep working on as a team. We’ve got a couple of good places for us before we get to the off week, with St. Louis this weekend with our Auto-Owners Insurance Camry, and the then Sonoma the following weekend. James (Small, crew chief) has been bringing good cars to the racetrack. It’s still a ways off, but we have that win under our belt and are right there in the standings, so hoping we can put it all together and get some more wins and playoff points and put ourselves in a position to have a shot at the regular-season championship.”


You’ve been in this sport for a long time, now. What does it mean to now be an elder statesman in the sport, and has it changed your job at all in recent years?


“I don’t know if it’s changed a whole lot. It definitely feels like it kind of happened quickly as guys have exited the sport the last five or six years and I have another year under my belt. It’s kind of crazy that once (Kevin) Harvick retires, I’m going to be the oldest guy. Definitely pretty wild to think about, but I definitely feel young and feel like I can do this for a while, if that’s what I decide to do. I’ve always kind of been laid back. The way I’m perceived is that if I’m speaking out and saying something, they should probably listen because I don’t say a whole lot. I think I feel that way, especially around our team at Joe Gibbs Racing. They know if I’m vocal about something, then it’s probably pretty important. I try not to just say things just to say them. Generally, you can believe what I’m saying and take it to the bank.”