The success of the “Big Three” has been well-documented this season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, as Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have combined to win 17 races.
But when it comes to Bristol Motor Speedway, Truex is a step behind his “Big Three” counterparts and that’s something he’s looking to change at Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
While Busch has been incredible at Bristol, winning seven Cup Series races, and Harvick has two wins, Truex is still looking for his first, having only posted two top-five finishes at Bristol in 25 career starts.
A swift turnaround and strong performance by Truex on Saturday keeps the “Big Three” conversation going full steam ahead, while giving the defending world champion some welcome momentum at the track.
“These tracks change so much throughout the weekend, especially here at Bristol,” Truex said. “Tracks like this, you have to be open-minded, but also have that notebook and a good understanding of the racetrack and what direction it goes in the race. Obviously, Kyle and his team have done a good job of that here and we’re trying to kind of figure out how to do it, but I feel like it’s a decent track for us if we could just get a finish. That’s what we’re looking for this weekend.”
The spring race at Bristol didn’t go as planned, as Truex was involved in a crash with 48 laps remaining that ended his day. It summed up what has been a frustrating affair for Truex at The Last Great Colosseum, one of the few tracks where he hasn’t put it all together in recent seasons.
Truex has 16 wins dating back to 2016, posting eight a year ago en route to the championship. He’s halfway there this season with four victories, sitting third in points as the playoffs approach.
The success has also given Truex a massive dose of confidence, especially after several grueling years of building to this point.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun,” Truex said. “It’s something you work towards for a long time, and for our team I feel like we’ve been able to be in that position, I feel like, for a few years now. So that’s been fun. It definitely wasn’t overnight, so it’s been fun to do that the last couple season and hopefully we can keep doing. It’s a lot more fun to run good and show up at the racetrack and know you have a shot at winning.”
As for the question marks regarding his sponsorship for 2019, Truex said he has to remain focused on finishing 2018 on a high note, especially as Harvick and Busch continue to perform at a high level. Getting that first Bristol victory driving the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Ducks Unlimited Toyota would certainly help that cause.
“We’ve been in this situation before,” Truex said. “We’ve just been able to focus on doing our job. We always feel like, at the end of the day, if we do our jobs and do them well and we’re winning races, that’s the best opportunity to keep things going the way they are. That’s not going to change and that’s just what we have to do. We’re going to fight at hard as we can no matter what next year looks like and try to repeat what we did last year.”