MTJ Digs Deep At Richmond

Martin Truex, Jr

After leading a dominant 228 of the 407 laps in Sunday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway but not getting to celebrate in Victory Lane, Martin Truex Jr. was understandably frustrated in the checkered flag moments.

The good news for Truex, however, is that he heads north in Virginia for this weekend’s race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway the driver points standings leader for the second consecutive week – 14 points ahead of Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson.

Truex is riding a streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes, highlighted by a runner-up finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway three weeks ago. He’s led laps in six of the seven races – his 362 laps total this season second only to Larson’s 368.

So, while Sunday night was unquestionably a tough outcome to stomach, his season has been impressive. And the expectations remain high.

“Unfortunately, that’s happened to us a few times over the years,” an obviously frustrated Truex said of leading the most laps, but not hoisting the trophy.

“Definitely sucks but a good solid day and another car capable of winning,” he added, “just have to come back next week and try to get them again.”

The good news is Truex and his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team are headed to a place – Martinsville (Va.) Speedway – where he’s had plenty of success. The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion is a three-time race winner (2019, 2020, and 2021) at the historic half-mile track.

He’s finished inside the top-10 in half his starts (16) there – 10 times he’s earned a top-five finish. He turned in one of the most impressive afternoons in modern history in 2019, leading 464 of the 500 laps en route to his first victory there. Four times he’s led at least 100 laps at Martinsville. No one has won as many races there as Truex since 2019 and he’s the last driver to win back-to-back races (2019-20).

He was third in last year’s Spring race and started from pole position in the Fall Playoff race there – leading 47 laps and finishing 12th .

“Definitely high confidence going into Martinsville compared to the first year of this car,” Truex said. “To be able to go run like we did at Richmond it gives me a lot of confidence going forward that our Martinsville stuff should be good.

“I love going there, it’s been a really good track for us over the years aside from that first year of NextGen. Hopefully, we can continue that, and use that going forward with our Bass Pro Shops Camry [this week].”

Since his amazing 2017 NASCAR Cup Series championship run with Furniture Row Racing when he won a career single season high eight races – he’s led the championship standings in all but one season. The confidence level is higher than the disappointment threshold this week.

“Plenty more races left so we’ll keep fighting,” Truex’ crew chief James Small said Sunday night.

And that’s something you can bet on.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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