Martin Truex Jr.’s overall performance at this time of the season is outperforming any of his previous years in NASCAR’s elite series, including last year when he was one of the hottest drivers on the circuit.
After eight NASCAR Cup Series races, Truex is ahead of 2016 in wins at one (0 at same time last year), top fives at two (one), top 10s at five (two), laps led at 432 (198), average start 9.9 (12.4) and average finish at 8.6 (13.0).
He ranks third in driver points compared to 10th after the same number of races in 2016.
Truex also leads the Cup series in stage wins at five and is tied for playoff bonus points at 10. He ranks second with an additional 92 standing points for his stage racing performances. His 432 laps led is positioned in second place, one fewer than Kevin Harvick’s 433.
“We’ve had fast cars all year and I thank Toyota, TRD, our road crew and all the guys at our Furniture Row Racing shop in Denver, along with our technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing for providing me with top-notch equipment,” said Truex, who will drive the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota Camry in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. “Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and his engineering staff have produced week in and week out. It’s been a solid team effort all around.”
Though Truex is quick to point out that he has enjoyed more success early in the season compared to past years, he truly understands how quickly things can change.
“If you stand pat in this business your performance will drop in a flash,” stated Truex, who qualified for the playoffs the past two years. “It’s all about the future, finding ways to make the car run faster. But don’t get me wrong, it’s a good feeling to start off the season with some success. It’s been a momentum and confidence builder.”
Truex has had strong performances at various types of venues this season, including the recent race at the Bristol Motor Speedway’s half-mile short track. He was in contention for the win late in the race, running a close second to eventual winner Jimmie Johnson. But a speeding penalty on his final pit stop dashed any hopes of a win. However, he did battle back to post an eighth-place finish, his best result at Bristol in five years.
Richmond’s 0.75-mile circuit will be the third short track in the last four NASCAR Cup Series races. Truex has had recent success at Richmond, earning three top-10 finishes in the last four races. Last year he posted top 10s in both Richmond races -- ninth in the first race and third in the second. He is looking for even better results this weekend in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota.
“Richmond is one of those tracks where you will get almost a 100 percent consensus from the drivers for track likability,” noted Truex. “It’s not an easy track to maneuver but a fun track to race at. You have to have a short track mentality to race there because there are a number of differences for a track that is only 0.75 mile in length. The straightaways are long and corners one and two are completely different from corners three and four. You have to have the right balance, and after what we accomplished at Bristol I feel good about our chances in the Toyota Owners 400.”