Friday, Sep 22

Bass Pro Shops Racing: Martin Truex Jr. Darlington Southern 500 Advance

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.


Playoff Time: Truex sealed up the regular-season championship last weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The regular-season champion is awarded 15 playoff points, so Truex will start the 10-race playoff with 36 playoff points he can take through to each round. Truex and William Byron sit atop the initial playoff standings with 2,036 points, 11 ahead of third-place Denny Hamlin.


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.


● Truex has two wins, four top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and has led a total of 914 laps in 22 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington. Truex’s average Darlington finish is 13.2.


● Truex notched his most recent Darlington win in May 2021, when he dominated the race and led 248 laps en route to his second victory at the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval.


Quite an Honor: For Sunday night’s Labor Day-weekend Southern 500, Truex and the No. 19 team will host special guests from Bass Pro Shops. The name of Jeanne Allen, a 45-year employee of Bass Pro Shops, will appear on Truex’s Bass Pro Shops Camry. As transportation manager at Bass Pro Shops, Allen has done it all during her tenure with the company.  She’s managed many big projects, including getting merchandise to customers, and delivering significant historical artifacts to many stores and museums across the country. The No. 19 Bass Pro Shops team is honored to have Allen and her husband Roger join them Sunday at Darlington Raceway.


● While he doesn’t like to play favorites, Truex certainly excels at tracks with worn-out surfaces, where driver skill is key to managing the tires and the racecar over the course of a long race. At four such tracks, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Darlington, and Homestead-Miami Speedway, Truex has six career wins, 23 top-five finishes and 45 top-10s. He’s also led 2,433 laps at three of this year’s 10 playoff tracks. So it should be no surprise that Truex is looking forward to Sunday night’s race at Darlington and the following playoff race at Kansas, along with Homestead-Miami, site of the third-to-last race of the season and the next-to-last race of the Round of 8.


● So far this season, Truex has scored three points-paying wins, nine top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led an impressive 832 laps through 26 races. To put the laps-led number in perspective, Truex led just 572 during the entire 36-race season in 2022.


Martin Truex Jr., Driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD


What’s the challenge of 500 miles at Darlington as opposed to other racetracks, and even the 400-mile race there?


“The challenge is that it’s a long race, a lot of pit stops and a lot of chances for things to go wrong. Track position is obviously really important. To go through 13 sets of tires or whatever it is, and track position, what it means there and to keep track position, it’s tough to stay up front and be consistently really strong. It’s tough to do there, and we hope we can do that on Sunday night with our Bass Pro Shops Camry TRD.”


How do you think the first round of the playoffs set up for you and your team?


“Obviously a high amount of confidence in Darlington, and Kansas, as well. Bristol has never been my greatest place. It’s been a bit of a challenge, but I feel we are competitive there so we aren’t going to knock ourselves out of the first round there. But you never know what can happen. Bonus points are going to be huge, and hopefully we can just be consistent and execute with what we are capable of. We should be able to go to the third race at Bristol and be in decent shape.”


What is it about Darlington that seems to lean toward the veteran drivers?


“I think it’s both driver and team, it’s a combination. You look at Kevin (Harvick) and Rodney (Childers), they’ve been together a long time. You look at myself, James (Small, crew chief), and Jazzy (Jeff Curtis, race engineer) – we’ve been together and working on things together for a long time, so it’s just part of it. It’s such a tough track and history plays a part in that, and having the confidence in how to drive the place and understand how to drive it with how they set the cars up. It’s just a combination of things that experience plays into. With that being said, this car is a lot different than it used to be and my team has just done a good job of giving me good cars there, and I always have enjoyed that place, it’s fun for me.”


Does it take a driver a long time to get used to how to drive Darlington and get used to its nuances?


“I think it just suits some guys, and others it doesn’t. For me, I feel like it’s about how I like to drive my car and the feel I need for the long run. It’s always going back to for as long as I remember, because I don’t really know what I do differently than everyone else, and I don’t know if my team does, either. It’s just the way that it happens. Even with all the technology today, sometimes you just can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that makes us good there. You can see the SMT and see exactly what a driver is doing, but there’s more to connecting that feel and those inputs than you can imagine. It just suits me, and I really enjoy it. Looking forward to this weekend with our Bass Pro Shops Camry.”


Some drivers say they love Darlington and others say they just can’t get a grasp on it. Is it just tires or much more to be good at Darlington?


“It’s very unique, I love it. It’s really hard on tires and hard to get your car working good. For me, I’ve had a lot of really good runs there and have won a bunch of races and have been really strong in the last four years, so I really enjoy it. I’ve had bad cars there years ago and I can see how that could be just miserable if you don’t have a good car. Fun track and a place I really like.”


How technical of a track is Darlington?


“It’s definitely really technical. It’s a track that is really fast but the two ends of the track are completely different, which makes the crew chiefs scratch their heads. It’s hard to get your car working right on both ends, so you have to compromise. It’s never going to be perfect. It’s never going to be comfortable, but you’ve got to figure out a way to be comfortable with it and that’s what I love about Darlington. You are on the ragged edge so much and the tires wear off the car so bad on the long run that you are just on ice. You are sliding and trying to keep the right rear from dragging against the wall, and you are just sliding everywhere. I just think it’s so much fun. It’s been a great track for me, I think just because I like it so much. Hoping we can have a great run there this weekend with our Bass Pro Shops Camry and pick up where we left off the last two races there with having such a strong car both times.”




No right click

Please link the article.