Martin Truex Jr.'s Championship Prep: "We Learned a Lot Throughout the Summer"

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Martin Truex Jr.’s 2022 Cup Series season has had its share of ups and downs.  With three wins in his first 12 races, Truex Jr. was looking to be right behind Kyle Larson in terms of championship favorites.  Then came the summer, and with it the results dried up, leaving fans of the #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota worried.  But there may have been a plan all along – a method to the madness.

 

Take a look at Martin Truex Jr.’s three regular season wins – Phoenix, Martinsville and Darlington.  Each of those are tracks that reappear in the playoffs.  It would appear the team focused all of their efforts on playoff tracks.  In fact, Truex Jr.’s average finish at non-playoff tracks was 15.00, whereas at playoff tracks he had an average finish of 8.75. 

 

Truex Jr. wasn’t necessarily willing to confirm that this was the plan all along, instead focusing on the fact that everyone on the team seems to be firing on all cylinders at the right time.  “[We’re] executing, we’ve been consistent, we’ve had fast race cars […], we’ve had some good runs, winning Richmond was good, the pit crew has been on it.  So overall I think we’ve been well-rounded and we’ve had good speed, so hopefully we can continue to do that.” 

 

However, he’ll have his hands full over the next two races.  While Truex Jr. may have an upper hand at the Charlotte Roval road course in two weeks, he’s the first to admit that this week’s “Talladega is a big question mark.”  Despite four Super Speedway wins in the Xfinity series (including three at Talladega), Truex Jr. has not won a single one in the Cup Series over 66 attempts, saying of the track: “We’ve kind of been in a bad relationship the last couple of years.  I enjoy going there, I enjoy racing there, it’s just been a real challenge to get to the finish.”

 

The dip in performance through the final 14 races of the regular season (which also happen to be 14 non-playoff tracks) might have given fans pause, but the team might have been keeping their focus farther ahead for the playoffs. “I think we all understand when the playoffs start, you’ve got to put all your best stuff together.  I think that’s just what [Crew Chief] James [Small] and the guys were able to do, so we learned a lot throughout the summer.”

 

Martin Truex Jr. will look to continue his playoff momentum this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, which starts at 2:00pm ET on Sunday, October 3rd.

Written by Adam Carabine