Bass Pro Shops Racing: Martin Truex Jr. Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Advance

Joe Gibbs Racing Photo

● Where We Stand: The New Jersey native sits second in the driver standings with 456 points, 30 behind leader Kyle Larson. Three of the four Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) entries are currently inside the top-10 in the standings, with Denny Hamlin sitting third and Ty Gibbs seventh as the series heads back to points-paying races this weekend with the annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

● As part of #NASCARSalutes and the 600 Miles of Remembrance initiative during the Coca-Cola 600, the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Camry will be honoring First Lieutenant Harold Ring, who lost his life on Feb. 23, 1969, in Vietnam. Ring was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 11th Artillery Regiment (7/11), of the 25th Infantry (“Tropic Lightning”) Division (the 25 ID) in the Vietnam war. On Feb. 23, 1969, his platoon hastily retreated to better cover in a ditch along a road, which they had just crossed. One man was left alone about 20 yards from the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) machine gun nest. It was at that point that the unit’s FO (1st Lieutenant Ring) began working its way toward the lone infantryman and the NVA machinegun nest. He also began calling artillery fire on NVA trenches and bunkers, from which the enemy had opened fire along a broad front. Ring was awarded the Silver Star for valor that day because his actions were instrumental in suppressing NVA fire and allowing the platoon to survive. Bass Pro Shops and Truex are honored to have 1Lt. Ring riding along on the No. 19 at Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 and remember the bravery of 1LT Ring and all those who have served our country this weekend and every day.

● In addition to 1st Lieutentant Ring’s name on the windshield, Bass Pro Shops is honoring 34 additional fallen soldiers, as they will be riding along on the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Camry with its patriot Red, White, and Blue paint scheme in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

● Truex has three wins, eight top-five finishes and 14 top-10s and has led a total of 1,059 laps in 32 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Charlotte. Truex’s average Charlotte finish is 13.7.

● Truex notched his most recent Coca-Cola 600 win in May 2019, when he led 116 laps en route to his third victory at the 1.5-mile oval. Truex’s other Charlotte wins came in May 2016 and September 2017. The Bass Pro Shops driver’s most memorable of two Coca-Cola 600 wins came in his first win there in 2016, when Truex led a whopping 392 laps, the most miles any driver has ever led a NASCAR Cup Series race to date in one of the most dominating performances of the modern era of NASCAR.

● Looking for 35: Truex’s win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon last July was his most recent Cup Series win, the 34th of his career, tying him with 2004 Cup Series champion Kurt Busch for 25th on the all-time Cup Series win list.

● Ahead at this Stage: Truex has accumulated 63 stage wins since the beginning of the stage era in 2017. He is the only driver with 10 or more stage sweeps, with his latest sweep coming at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn last August. Truex scored his second stage win of the season at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway last month, leading the field across the line at the end of Stage 1.

Martin Truex Jr., Driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry XSE

What is your favorite thing about the Coca-Cola 600?

“My favorite thing about the Coke 600 is how much the track changes and how long the race is. It’s such a big challenge to get prepared for and get through the whole race. We’ve been fortunate to win it a few times. For whatever reason, it’s been a really good race for me and my Bass Pro Shops team the past eight or nine years. I always look forward to the challenge – it’s a grind and I love that. Always honored to not only have a fallen soldier riding along with me, but also for all the work Bass Pro Shops does with the USO and all their great work with our military heroes.”

What is it like winning the Coke 600?

“When you win the 600, you get to go upstairs in the Speedway Club and get the jacket – you get a ring and a jacket – it’s a big deal, it’s not like winning a normal race. Any time you get to do those things, it’s really special and you definitely savor the moment. For me, leading 492 miles or whatever back in 2016, it was a great trip up there after. The most laps and miles led in a NASCAR race, it was an incredible deal to be able to do that.”

What does it mean to you, all the things that are done for the families of fallen service members during the weekend?

“It’s obviously special to honor a fallen service member on all of our windshields with 1LT Ring on our car this weekjend, but also just to meet the family members who get to come to the track. And just to see their excitement and their appreciation for what NASCAR does to put that on and honor the family members. It makes them feel very special, and for us it’s just a huge honor. To do the break during the race is special, too. It’s just part of the whole day to honor those who have made so many sacrifices for our country, and to have the halfway break is very moving.”

Would you say the 2016 Coca-Cola 600 was a day that lined up for you the most perfectly in your career, and are there others that have been that good that maybe not everyone would know like that day?

“Certainly that 2016 Coke 600 was a special day. We started on the pole and led almost every lap, and the only laps we didn’t lead were when we were pitting. Essentially led every lap we were on the track racing. To do that in a 600-mile race, the longest of the year, to do that was as close to perfection as it gets. But, I feel like there were other races that I might have had a better performance by me, just because I know when I make mistakes and do the little things here and there. The Coke 600 that year, it got pretty sketchy a couple of times for as easy as it looked from the outside. I’ve had a couple of Darlington races where I think I had better performances. Last year, we led with 30 to go and had the belt issue and didn’t end up winning, I felt like that was one of my best races ever, even though we didn’t win. There have been a few along the way where I felt like I didn’t make any mistakes and I got everything I could, but certainly that Coke 600 was as dominant as we’ve been as a team.”


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