Truex could hit the trifecta in the Round of 8

Truex could hit the trifecta in the Round of 8
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

FORT WORTH, TEXAS--Entering Martinsville Speedway and the Round of 8, Martin Truex Jr.had never won at any of the venues in his 14-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

Of course, that changed on Sunday with the most dominant performance NASCAR’s oldest track had witnessed in the modern era. Truex won both stages and led 464 of 500 laps for his seventh victory of the season.

But as Truex predicted last weekend, the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team can win anywhere it unloads.

“If there are three tracks that we haven’t won at that we should have already, it’s these three,” Truex said last Saturday. “Phoenix we ran second and I’ve been good there over the years in general. Had some close ones. And of course, Texas, I’ve led a ton of laps there. I’ve probably led more laps at Texas than anyone that hasn’t won there. We’ve been close there as well.

For us, we just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing. Try to focus on what we need to do to put us in a position to win but don’t lose sight of the big picture and beat ourselves.”

Certainly, Truex has been the most consistent of the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers on the track and off. While Kyle Busch has been off of his game and hasn’t won a race since June, Truex has won four of his seven races during that time.

Although Denny Hamlin also seemed invincible of late, the driver of the No. 11 Fed Ex Toyota had to be restrained last Sunday following a confrontation with Joey Logano at Martinsville. Truex simply enjoyed his victory celebration as the melee ensued on pit road and later deflected questions regarding the incident. As Truex said earlier, he's remaining focussed on what he and the team must do to win.

While Truex is locked into the Championship 4 Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway, that’s not going to stop him from collecting more hardware along the way—including this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Truex wasn’t completely accurate about being the active driver with the most laps led here without a win. That honor would go to Brad Keselowski with 639 circuits at the point compared to his fellow champion’s 605 laps.

But in 28 starts, Truex has four top-fives and 15 top 10s. His average finish since joining forces with crew chief Cole Pearn is 10.4. In his last nine starts, he’s led 374 laps. His best finish of second came in this race two years ago en route to Truex’s Cup title.

Truex knows the key to success at Texas will come on restarts—which have changed dramatically this year.

“Restarts throughout the year have continued to get more aggressive,” Truex said. “It’s mostly a product of this package, I would say, more so than what we’ve worked on during the season. I think guys are just getting the hang of it. What works and what doesn’t and understanding that you have to be aggressive to be successful.

“It’s just everybody getting better at it, understanding it. But ultimately, it’s a product of the package not what we’ve developed.”

And Truex doesn’t expect Texas Motor Speedway to be any different when it comes to drivers gouging and grabbing every position they can on the racetrack.

“It will be like Kansas—just crazy, mayhem,” Truex said. “Three, four, five-wide, as many cars as will fit,  if there’s a hole, guys will shove it in there. It will be wild from here on out.”

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