● 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.
● Round of 8: Heading to the second race in the Round of 8 of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, Truex sits fourth in the standings with 4,071 points, three above the top-four cutline.
● Truex has one win, seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s and has led a total of 377 laps in 18 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Homestead Truex’s average Homestead finish is a strong 8.4. His average finish there is second best among active drivers behind Kevin Harvick, who has a 6.8 average.
● Truex notched his Homestead victory in November 2017, when he led 78 laps and clinched his first Cup Series championship.
● 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.
● So far this season, Truex has scored three points-paying wins, nine top-five finishes, 16 top-10s and has led an impressive 841 laps through 33 races. To put the laps-led number in perspective, Truex led just 572 during the entire 36-race season in 2022.
Martin Truex Jr.
What kind of comfort level do you have at Homestead?
“It’s a track I feel good about. Recent success is always important. Now (we’re back) racing with the NextGen car we got to race there for the first time (last year). That went really well and we were in position to win that race late and we had issues getting spun on pit road that took us out of it. Definitely have a lot of confidence going there with our Bass Pro Shops Camry. I feel like we have a good notebook from last year to go off of. It’s a place where I think we can make something happen.”
What do you like most about Homestead-Miami Speedway?
“Everything. That’s the kind of track I really like. You can run all over and it’s really low-grip and it wears tires out. You really have to manage your car and your tires throughout runs. Be able to move around the track and find lines that work for you. It’s a big challenge and I enjoy tracks like that. I love South Florida and love going down there. A lot of great fans. It doesn’t feel like fall when you go down there, it feels like summer, so that’s an added bonus.”
You are in your 18th fulltime Cup Series season and will be back next year for your 19th. What keeps you going and keeps you motivated with not many other drivers with your longevity currently left in the sport?
“The craziest part is just how fast it’s all gone by. Our seasons are so long and they feel like they drag on forever, but when you look back, so much has happened and I can’t believe I’ve been doing it for this long. I’ve been lucky to have some great teams and a lot of great success, and winning a championship was more than I ever expected when I started doing this. Still feeling like we are capable of doing more, so that’s what I’m still here for more. Just having a great team, and knowing we can win every weekend, keeps me going and keeps me hungry and continuing to work hard to be better every single weekend. It’s a difficult sport and you can have a bad year one year and then be better the next. You just have to stay focused. I’ve been able to do that and have a good team behind me, so I’m always ready to go to work each week.”