● Event: Go Bowling at the Glen (Round 25 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Aug. 20
● Location: Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International
● Layout: 2.45-mile, 7-turn road course
● Laps/Miles: 90 laps / 220.5 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 20 laps / Stage 2: 20 laps / Final Stage: 50 laps
● TV/Radio: USA Network / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
● 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.
● Siemens will appear as primary sponsor for the first time for Truex and the No. 19 team this weekend at Watkins Glen. Siemens has worked with JGR since 1999 and is the official technology partner for Joe Gibbs Racing. Over the years, JGR has leveraged Siemens’ software solutions to solve some of the most extreme engineering challenges. JGR engineers rely on Siemens to help them create a digital twin of the car so they can simulate its performance and try different combinations virtually. With the introduction of the NextGen car, these design and simulation capabilities have been helpful to the team as it learns and grows each week.
● 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.
● Road-Course Ace: Truex has a total of five wins, 13 top-five finishes, and 18 top-10s at the three permanent road-course venues on the Cup Series schedule – Sonoma, Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, and Watkins Glen. Four of those wins came at Sonoma and one at Watkins Glen.
● Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen marks the fifth of six road-course races on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Truex finished 17th in the first road-course race of the year March 26 at COTA before bringing home the June 11 win at Sonoma, He was 32nd in the series’ inaugural street race July 2 in downtown Chicago, and seventh this past Sunday on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The final road-course race of the season is Oct. 8 on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval.
● So far this season, Truex has scored three points-paying wins, eight top-five finishes, 13 top-10s and has led an impressive 828 laps through 24 races. To put the laps-led number in perspective, Truex led just 572 during the entire 36-race season in 2022.
● Ahead at this Stage: With his two stage wins at Michigan two weeks ago, Truex extended his lead in the NASCAR Cup Series with 61 stage wins since the beginning of the stage era in 2017. He is the only driver with 10 or more stage sweeps with another sweep coming at Michigan, and that most recent sweep of the opening two stages added more valuable playoff points to carry into and through the postseason. Truex also leads the series all-time in stage points with 1,967.
● After last weekend’s seventh-place finish at Indianapolis, Truex retained his lead in the Cup Series driver standings. He has 830 points, 60 ahead of second-place JGR teammate Denny Hamlin. The regular-season champion will receive 15 playoff points when the postseason begins Labor Day weekend in September. Between his stage points and the playoff points earned with his three victories, Truex now has accumulated 20 playoff points this season. Just two races remain in the regular season and Truex can clinch the regular season championship and the bonus points following this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen if he has an advantage of 56 points or more over second-place.
Martin Truex Jr.
How important is getting the corner right in turn one heading up into the esses to set up the rest of your lap at Watkins Glen?
“It’s a tough corner. It’s downhill and bumpy and heaving-braking, it sets up the whole run through the esses. The esses are really fast and you have to come out of (turn) one up to speed. If you bleed time off of turn one, your whole lap is over, so it’s very critical. It’s a high-speed track and a momentum track so they are all critical spots, but that’s what starts the lap, so it’s the first most important part there. And, if you make it through there, you have to navigate the bus stop and that’s probably the biggest challenge at the track. We have Siemens on board with us this week for the first time, so it’s a good track for them to be along with us, a place I like a lot. They’ve been a technology partner with JGR since 1999 and they do a lot of things behind the scenes to help our engineers to keep learning and make us better. Excited to have them on our car this weekend at Watkins Glen.”
With the tracks you visit during the last three races of the regular season not part of the playoffs, do these races matter as much as others at tracks that are in the playoffs?
“Every single race is important. I don’t know how anyone can say they don’t matter. We are looking at locking up 15 bonus points by trying to get the regular-season championship. It’s an opportunity to lock up a lot of bonus points and that’s what matters in the playoffs. Every race is equally important. All 26 matter and all 26 can earn you points and do things that will help you in the playoffs. For us, it’s business as usual and these races are all important.”
Denny Hamlin said on his podcast that you and your team are hot right now and gauging himself on what your team is doing. How does it feel to be that guy within JGR right now?
“It’s a lot of fun. It wasn’t that long ago – last year – when I was the guy at the bottom. Things change quickly in this sport. Certainly, my team is doing a great job. They have all year long and we’re just clicking. I think we made a lot of changes and did a lot of things last year to try to learn and those things are paying off this year. We’ve always been known to be aggressive and been learning setups for this car and just learning as much as we can. Hopefully we haven’t peaked too soon and we can keep it going and continue to do what we’ve been doing throughout the playoffs.”