Bass Pro Shops Racing: Martin Truex Jr. St. Louis Advance

Joe Gibbs Racing Photo

● Where We Stand: The New Jersey native sits second in the driver standings with 487 points, just five points behind leader and JGR teammate Denny Hamlin. All four Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) entries are currently inside the top-11 in the standings, with Ty Gibbs seventh and Christopher Bell 11th as the series heads heads into the summer months this weekend just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

● In the 2022 debut of the NASCAR Cup Series at World Wide Technology Raceway (WWTR) in Madison, Illinois, Truex and the No. 19 team ran well, leading 42 laps and bringing home a sixth-place finish. They followed it up in 2023 with a solid fifth-place finish. Truex’s average WWTR finish is a solid 5.5.

● Dazzling Debut: While this weekend is just the third time the Cup Series will have competed at WWTR, Truex has competed at the 1.25-mile, egg-shaped oval twice before in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, qualifying on the pole for both the May 2004 and 2005 races. He went on to win the 2004 race, leading 109 laps along the way.

● 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 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 has it been like going back to St. Louis the last couple of years, but this time in the Cup Series?

“It’s been awesome to go back there. I think the last time I raced there before the last couple of years was 2005.  It’s amazing how different the track is now and how good it is. The racing there was incredible with this NextGen car. We were going back there thinking that this was going to be one-groove with everyone on the bottom and it’s going to be hard to pass, and that’s not been the case at all. We use the whole racetrack and that’s what makes it good now. It’s a fun track with really long straightaways, but you have to use the brakes, you have to slow down for the corners. It’s the only place we downshift twice on an oval to make a corner and it’s really produced some really good racing and it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve had a good season but would love to get in the win column this weekend with our Bass Pro Shops Camry. It’s a place we are capable of winning at, for sure.”

What does it take to be able to win at WWTR?

“Qualifying well is important, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t qualify well. It’s a short track, basically. It has long straightaways but short turns, so you have to be able to turn the center of the corner but also be able to get the power down on exit and be able to save the tires for the long run. That’s key.”

What have been the challenges of the NextGen car?

“It’s challenged all of us, that’s for sure. The biggest thing is that everyone is so close, we all have the same car. So it’s really hard to find those little things that make our cars faster and make your chances of winning better. It’s just been tough. These cars are very sensitive to small changes and you really have to be on top of it. The crew chiefs and engineers are all going to be out of hair in a couple of years working on this thing because it’s a challenge. It’s been tough, but also a lot of fun to drive.”

What are your expectations heading to the Cup Series’ third race at World Wide Technology Raceway?

“The first year there, we were one of the best cars out there, along with Joey (Logano) and Kyle (Busch). We were up there and fighting for the lead a ton. It’s a place I’ve always liked, so we were able to get our car where we needed to fairly quickly with a full practice session and time to work on the car during the weekend. Last year, we got behind on track position but had a really strong finish to the race and almost made it back up into the top-five at the end. Hoping we can pick back up where we left off there and keep the track position this time and get our first win of the season. St. Louis is flat, like Phoenix, but it’s a lot more worn out. Hoping we can have another strong effort there with our Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry XSE.”


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