Martin Truex Jr. games the system to his advantage to advance

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 08: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America ROVAL 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 08, 2023 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. regular season was one he could be proud of. Truex won the regular series title on the strength of three wins, nine top five and 15 top 10 finishes.

His Playoffs, however, have left something to be desired. His best finish in the Playoffs so far was 17th at Texas. He finished 19th Sunday at the ROVAL. Despite this Truex will be moving onto the next round. Sunday, he said he was ready to put the ROVAL, the final road course in the Playoffs behind him.

“Yeah, 100%. I’m definitely excited we’re not coming back here again,” he said. “This track has just been a thorn in our side. Feel good about moving on and feel good about what we can do the next three races. Some good tracks for us and hopefully we can get something going. It’s been a pretty tough Playoffs so far.”

And while his record might now show it, Truex made it to the next round running slow and steady, especially when it comes to Stage racing. While he did finish the race 19th he was 4tth in Stage 1 and 8th in Stage 2. And that’s the key according to Truex.

“Stage points and bonus points,” he said. “I didn’t create the system. We used it to our advantage. That won’t get us through the next one. The next one, you’ve got to be running up front. Two winners of the next three races are probably going to be Playoff guys that are still going. Need to turn it up and we need to figure it out quickly.”

And now the next round will see the points reset and a clean slate for the 8 drivers remaining, including Truex.

“That’s the beauty and that’s the thing that sucks about this deal, you know what I mean?” he said. “I’m sure there’s guys that are upset. They outran us enough to get in, but they didn’t have the bonus points. It is what it is. I hate that we didn’t run better today or finish better at least. I thought the first two stages maybe our car was pretty decent, but, man, I don’t know what happened. Need to go back and look at that. It wasn’t much fun, but we made it so here we go. We’ll try three more.”

Greg Engle