It took 16 races, but Martin Truex Jr. is solidly back in championship-form.
Halfway through his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing, Martin Truex Jr. has won four of the last eight races and matched his win total from 2018.
Those wins have come on four different type of tracks – a short track (Richmond), a 1-mile oval (Dover), an intermediate (Charlotte) and now a road course (Sonoma).
He’s also tied with teammate Kyle Busch for most wins this year. His surge comes after he opened the season with just two top fives in the first eight races.
“I’m not sure what it was, whether it was the rules or whether it was the new shop, but starting with Richmond, which was his first win with Joe Gibbs Racing, he’s won four of the last eight (races) and led over 500 laps,” Steve Letarte said on NASCAR America. “Something has clicked. … Now it’s more Kyle Busch-Martin Truex Jr. than Joe Gibbs-Team Penske.”
Truex’s win is also his 20th in the last four years, all of them with crew chief Cole Pearn.
In the 10 years before that, Truex had only three victories. Truex’s 20 wins trail Busch’s total in the last four years by one.
“He has more wins than Kevin Harvick (14),” Jeff Burton said. “Until you look that, we don’t realize it. I don’t think Martin Truex Jr. gets enough credit for how good he is. He has more wins than everybody but Kyle Busch. If this year continues (like this), when this year ends he will have more wins in the last four years than Kyle Busch. You have to put the right people together, timing matters.”
Dale Jarrett sees a kindred spirit in Truex. Like Truex, Jarrett had a slow start in the Cup Series before being paired with the right crew chief and team that launched him on a Hall of Fame trajectory. Jarrett won four times in his first nine seasons of making 24 or more Cup starts.
“He will be in the Hall of Fame,” Jarrett said. “I’m somebody that can identity with this. When I came into the sport things were OK. I won a couple of races at Joe Gibbs, but it was getting paired with Todd Parrott at Robert Yates Racing with the second car that made my career. I was surrounded by good people. Todd knew what I needed. … I really appreciate how Martin goes about this. He doesn’t have to tell everybody how good he is. He lets his driving do the job.”
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