There are three good reasons why Martin Truex Jr. is considered one of the strong favorites to win Sunday’s road race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
1. He is the defending champion of the NASCAR Cup Series event.
2. He will be seeking his third straight road race win. After winning in Watkins Glen last year, he won this year’s road race at Sonoma Raceway in June.
3. He has led the most laps in the last three road races – 2017 at Sonoma (25) and Watkins Glen (24) and 2018 at Sonoma (62).
Truex’s victories at the last two road races were a combination of superior driving along with a sound pit strategy.
When asked how important strategy is at a road race Truex said, “Strategy at a road course is so critical. If you lose 15 to 20 spots in track position during a pit cycle or trying to do something that doesn’t work out like being caught by a caution before pitting, your day can be ruined.
“I am not saying you can’t pass at a road course but if you lose a big chunk in track position it takes time to get back to the front. You just stick to your strategy and hopefully it plays out in your favor.”
Truex, who will drive the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota in the 90-lap race, recalled how his early years while growing up in Mayetta, N.J. shaped his road racing skills.
“I raced go karts on road courses and always had fun learning the challenges of road racing,” said Truex, who has completed 100 percent of the laps in 12 career Cup starts at Watkins Glen. “I can remember the first time I raced at Watkins Glen. It was in a Busch North Series car. It took a while to figure out the track – it was crazy. I kept asking myself ‘How are these guys going so fast around here?’ ’’
“I have a lot of years of experience racing at the Glen. And right now I am with a great team which gives me all the pieces to be able to win races at different tracks. Hopefully we can go to the Glen this weekend and do it again. We know that a good qualifying spot is key. Starting up front sets the tone for the race.”
Truex, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, enters Watkins Glen third in driver and playoff points. He has four wins, 14 top fives, 14 top 10s and four poles after 21 races.
His career record at the Watkins Glen 2.45-mile circuit is 12 starts, one win, four top fives, seven top 10s, an average starting position of 14.8 and average finish of 12.1.
Qualifying will take place Saturday at 6:35 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network and Sunday’s race will start at 3 p.m. ET. on the NBC network.