While Martin Truex Jr. won the Cup Series title for the first time in 2017, he’s been a NASCAR champion for far longer.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver got his big break in 2004 when he competed for Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s Chance 2 Motorsports in the Xfinity Series (then the Busch Series).
Truex proceeded to drive the team’s No. 8 Chevrolet to 12 wins and consecutive Xfinity titles (2004 and 2005).
Truex surprised Earnhardt on this week’s episode of the Dale Jr. Download by revealing that he’ll drive his 2004 Bass Pro Shops Xfinity scheme in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (Sept. 1 on NBCSN).
The use of the paint scheme at Darlington is made even more appropriate by the fact that’s where Truex clinched his 2004 title in the next to last race of the year.
“So many things had to happen for me to get where I am right now,” Truex said on the podcast. “This car was the first real sponsored car I had.”
Bass Pro Shops has been a supporter of Truex in some form every year since 2004.
“Without (CEO) Johnny Morris, another person I owe so much to, he’s just an amazing guy,” Truex said. “Loves racing, obviously. Loves, loves, loves NASCAR. Supports a lot of people. (Richard Childress Racing) he still does stuff with them. Just lucky to meet people like that along the way. And I never would have met him if it wasn’t for Chance 2 and Dale. You had that relationship with him. It’s crazy, man.”