Friday, Sep 22

Auto-Owners Insurance Racing: Martin Truex Jr. Indianapolis Road Course Advance

Auto-Owners Insurance Racing: Martin Truex Jr. Indianapolis Road Course Advance NK Photography Photo

Notes of Interest


● Martin Truex Jr., 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 first 10 points-paying races, the breakthrough win finally came at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway on May 1, and Truex has added two more points-paying victories and four overall this season – June 11 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway and July 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.


34 and Counting: Truex’s win at New Hampshire was the 34th of his Cup Series career, putting him in a tie with 2004 Cup Series champion Kurt Busch for 25th on the all-time win list in NASCAR’s top series.


Road-Course Ace: Truex has a total of five wins, 13 top-five finishes, and 18 top-10s at the three permanent road-course venues on the Cup Series schedule – Sonoma, Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. Four of those wins came at Sonoma and one at Watkins Glen.


● So far this season, Truex has scored three points-paying wins, eight top-five finishes, 12 top-10s and has led an impressive 828 laps through 23 races. To put the laps-led number in perspective, Truex led just 572 during the entire 36-race season in 2022.


Ahead at this Stage: With his two stage wins at Michigan this past weekend, Truex extended his lead in the NASCAR Cup Series with 61 stage wins since the beginning of the stage era in 2017. He is the only driver with 10 or more stage sweeps with another sweep coming at Michigan, and that most recent sweep of the opening two stages added more valuable playoff points to carry into and through the postseason. Truex also leads the series all-time in stage points with 1,966.


● After last weekend’s runner-up finish at Michigan, in which he led 55 laps, Truex retained his lead in the Cup Series driver standings. He has 799 points, 57 ahead of second-place JGR teammate Denny Hamlin. The regular-season champion will receive 15 playoff points when the postseason begins Labor Day weekend in September. Between his stage points and the playoff points earned with his three victories, Truex now has accumulated 20 playoff points this season. Three races remain in the regular season. 


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


They are set to move the restart zone at Indy this weekend? How do you think that will change things, if anything, for this weekend?


“I think they are going to move it back further down toward turn 13. I think it will be better. Last year, we were like six- or seven-wide and I got destroyed on the green-white-checkered restart there. I had a good run and finished who knows where because of it. Same thing at COTA this year, it’s just become a mess on those restarts at a few of these types of road courses. I think it will help a lot, so we’ll see if it really changes things when it’s put into action. We’ve run well at the Indy road course, just haven’t had the finishes to show for it. Hoping we can keep our momentum going and have another strong run with our Auto-Owners Insurance Camry at Indy.”


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. You saw it again on those last restarts at COTA, we all went up into turn one and someone dive-bombed and didn’t make the corner and it cost us and a few others a good finish. Indy is a similar type of first corner in that way. We’ll see if the restart zone change helps. I’m optimistic that it will be a positive change.”


What is the big takeaway as we head closer to the playoffs?


“We are excited. Every week we feel like we have a shot to win, that is all I can ask for. It’s exciting to come to the track every weekend knowing what these guys are going to bring me. Hopefully, we can keep it up. It would have been nice to get a win at Michigan, but we’ve been really consistent, lots of speed and laps led and that’s gotten us some good finishes. Those 15 bonus points are very important, so that’s what we’ll be focused on the next three weeks. That really helps you come playoff time. Just excited for what’s ahead with this team.”




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