Martin Truex Jr. - No. 51 Auto-Owners Insurance Tundra Camping World Trucks Bristol Dirt Race Preview

Martin Truex Jr. - No. 51 Auto-Owners Insurance Tundra Camping World Trucks Bristol Dirt Race Preview KBM Photo
Tidbits on Truex Jr.
  • Martin Truex Jr. returns to the Camping World Truck Series for the first time since 2006 driving the No. 51 Auto-Owners Insurance Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) in Saturday’s Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Truex Jr., has just two career starts in NASCAR’s third division, with a best result of 19th at the Milwaukee (Wisc.) Mile in 2005.
  • The Toyota Racing driver has 28 career Cup Series victories, including the series-best eight he collected en route to the championship in 2017. Truex Jr. is a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion (2004 and 2005) and has earned 13 career wins in that series. He has one win on the pavement at Bristol, which came in the XFINITY Series race in March of 2004.
  • Truex will be pulling double-duty this weekend, with both his Camping World Truck Series Tundra and his Cup Series Camry carrying primary sponsorship from his longtime partner, Auto-Owners Insurance. Established in 1916, Auto-Owners Insurance Group is a Fortune 500 insurance company headquartered in Lansing, Michigan. Auto-Owners is 100% committed to the Independent Agency System and is a values-driven company. Recognized for exceptional financial strength and stability, it is among the nation’s largest insurers, writing over 5 million policies annually. The No. 51 Tundra will carry associate sponsorship this week from Noble Aerospace, one of the largest and most capable aerospace metal finishing business in the United States, and Cessna, an aircraft solutions provider with a line of Citation jets, Caravan turboprops and classic piston aircrafts.
  • The Camping World Truck Series will have unique format this week, with two 50-minute practice sessions on Friday and a 15-lap heat race on Saturday. While the lineups for the heat races will be determined by a random draw, the starting grid for the race will be determined by a formula that weighs finishing position plus positions gained during each heat race. Drivers finishing first in their heats earn 10 points, second place earns nine, third place earns eight and so forth. Additionally, drivers earn one passing point for each position gained in their heat; there are no points deductions or “negative points” for drivers who lose positions in their heats. One other noticeable difference you will see during Saturday’s race is that there will not be live pit stops. The only time that teams will be permitted to change tires, add fuel or work on their vehicles will be during the stage breaks. Scoring will be frozen during stage breaks, but those who elect not to pit will be scored ahead of those who elect to hit pit road during the break for the ensuing restart.
  • Truex will be looking to join an exclusive club of just 35 drivers that have won at least one race in all three of NASCAR’s National Series. Christopher Bell, who won his first Camping World Truck Series race for KBM in 2015, became the most recent member of the club after winning the NASCAR Cup Series race at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Road Course earlier this year. Erik Jones (2013) and William Byron (2016), like Bell, earned their first career Truck Series victory at KBM on their way up the ladder, winning in order of progression through each series. Denny Hamlin won his first XFINITY Series race in March of 2006 and then won his first Cup Series race later that year. It was not until 2011 that Hamlin won his first Truck Series while racing driving for KBM. Busch is also a member of the club, but he earned his first Truck Series victory driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports in 2005, five years before the debut of KBM.
  • While this will be the first dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Camping World Truck Series, the series competed at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio from 2013 to 2019. Kyle Busch Motorsports captured two victories at Eldora. Darrell Wallace Jr. led a race-high 97 laps en route to victory in the 2014 event and Bell led a race-high 106 laps in his 2015 triumph. The truckers will race a second dirt race July 9 at Knoxville (Iowa) Speedway.
  • Mardy Lindley is in his first season as a crew chief at Kyle Busch Motorsports. Lindley picked up his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory last week at Atlanta with owner-driver Kyle Busch. He has guided his drivers to 32 wins and four ARCA Menards Series East championships since 2013, including back-to-back titles with Sam Mayer in 2019 and 2020. Additionally, he earned the ARCA Menards Series Sioux Chief Showdown championship with Mayer in 2020. Behind the wheel, the second-generation driver won 11 races on the Pro Cup Series from 2000 to 2006 and was crowned the series champion in 2001. Lindley has crew chiefed two ARCA Menards Series races on dirt tracks, earning a best result of fifth with Zane Smith at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds in 2018.
  • With Busch’s win at Atlanta Motor Speedway last week, the No. 51 team moved up two positions to fourth in the Camping World Truck Series owner’s championship standings.
Martin Truex Jr., Driver Q&A:
When is the last time you raced on dirt? Are you looking forward to it? Are you nervous, scared?
“I’m excited. I’m excited about it. I’ve only raced twice on dirt. Both of them were at Schrader’s, having a charity race out in Missouri, did that a few times in a modified. I grew up on four-wheelers and motorcycles. It’s going to be a learning curve for sure. I look at it as Bristol has been our worst track for the past couple years. Why the heck not lay down dirt and see what we can do? I think it’s going to be fun. New challenge, something different.”
What kinds of things are you doing to get ready to run on Bristol dirt?
“I talked to C. Bell (Christopher Bell) a little bit and kind of got his thoughts on what it might be like and I asked if there was anything that I really needed to pay attention to or to think about. I got a little insight from him, but honestly, it’s like anything else, until you actually do it, it’s hard to really know. It’s another instance where it’s really hard to prepare. That’s why I wanted to race the truck race – to help with the Cup car, and also, I haven’t been in a truck since 2005, so I look forward to that opportunity. Auto-Owners came on board and we put that together, so really excited about that. Thanks to Kyle (Busch) and everyone at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) for putting it all together. I’m just really using it for a learning experience, and hopefully, have some success at the same time. I’ll do some iRacing, I guess, this week, and hopefully that helps a little, but I doubt it will.”
Martin Truex Jr. Career Highlights:
  • Across 555 career NASCAR Cup Series starts has recorded 28 wins, 19 poles, 9963 laps led, 118 top-five and 232 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 15.4. Won the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series championship.
  • Across 104 career NASCAR XFINITY Series has recorded 13 wins, 10 poles, 1966 laps led, 41 top-five and 62 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.3. Won back-to-back NASCAR XFINITY Series championships in 2004-2005.
  • Has just two career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts with a best result of 19th at the Milwaukee Mile in 2005.
  • Won five NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races from 2000 to 2003.
Martin Truex Jr.'s No. 51 Auto-Owners Insurance Tundra:
KBM-12: The No. 51 Auto-Owners Insurance team will unload chassis number KBM-12 for Saturday’s Pinty’s Truck Race on dirt. The chassis has four career dirt starts at Eldora Speedway. The chassis best result on dirt was in 2018 when Logan Seavey led 53 laps and brought home an eighth-place finish. On pavement, this Tundra has one victory, with Erik Jones at Iowa Speedway in Newton in July of 2014.
KBM Notes of Interest: