● 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 heads to the Charlotte Roval with a 17-point cushion on the top-8 playoff cutline with Sunday’s third and final race of the Round of 12.
● Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 marks the sixth and final road-course race on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Truex finished 17th in the first one March 26 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, before bringing home the June 11 win at Sonoma. He was 32nd in the Inaugural Chicago Street Race on July 2, seventh on the road course Aug. 13 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and sixth Aug. 20 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
● 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 top-10 finishes and has led a total of six laps in five career NASCAR Cup Series starts on the Charlotte Roval. Truex’s average Roval finish is 14.8.
● 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 30 races. To put the laps-led number in perspective, Truex led just 572 during the entire 36-race season in 2022.
Martin Truex Jr.
When the Roval was first announced, did you think it would be as cool as many thought it would be?
“Yes, I remember all of it. I remember testing on the track for the first time when it was even a different configuration than we ended up with. There were no curbs, no grass, no paint, there was just dirt and old pavement. They just kept spicing it up and added curbs and paint and all this stuff and it turned out to be a pretty cool-looking racetrack, especially on TV with all the paint, and you had a bit of an F1 feel to it from that standpoint. It’s very unique, it’s different, it’s challenging. They went out on a long limb when it was created and it’s turned out to be pretty cool.”
Did you feel that the Roval was going to be difficult? And what did you think of it after running it a few times?
“I would say so. I was one of the first guys to test with just an infield road course with grass all around. I was wondering, since it was small and narrow and not sure how we would race on it beforehand, but it turned out to be quite the show. You have to be open-minded and embrace the challenges and try to do the best you can with it. That was how I viewed the Roval at the beginning, and how we tried to approach the Chicago Street Race, as well. We almost won the Roval the first year, so we ran well there and would love to get that win there this weekend with our Bass Pro Shops Camry.”
Your playoffs have been tough so far, but you are still in a good position to advance. How close is the competition week in and week out, and how much of a challenge is it during the playoffs?
“Ever since we went to the NextGen car, everything has been closer and it makes it challenging, for sure. It is harder to find an advantage, it’s harder to run at the front every week, consistently. Everything is tighter, closer together, less room for error – and you really have to be on top of things. The points situation is the same as every other race. It’s really, really hard to be at the front all of the time and this weekend we just need a solid day to hopefully get us through with some good tracks for us coming up.”