Fresh off his third victory of the season last weekend, Martin Truex Jr. could understandably carry a little swagger into Pocono (Pa.) Raceway for Sunday’s Pocono 400 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
But the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion is all business. The victories are what he expects at this point in his decorated 14-year full time career. And this Spring has been very bountiful for the New Jersey native.
Anyone still curious how the transition from his championship single-car team to the long-established championship Joe Gibbs Racing operation this season has certainly seen the coordinated effort of success. Truex hasn’t missed a beat.
“For me, I would say that for a transition going from one team to another, it’s been the least change I’ve ever had in my career just because of the alliance what we had with JGR,” Truex said. “The cars are the same basically. Parts and pieces, a lot of them are the same. There was a lot less change.
“Back in the day, you’d change teams and they did things different. You didn’t know what to expect. The feeling, the way they handled things, the way they built their cars … all those things are stuff that you get used to as a driver and those feels of things you like. For me, it’s really similar stuff.
“I knew what to expect,” he explained.
And that really made a huge difference. What seems most satisfying for Truex, who is the defending winner of the Pocono 400, is that he has had success in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry even when the team had to make adjustments. Even when he wasn’t necessarily the favorite.
“I think anytime you have success at a race track, it helps just because you kind of understand it a little bit,” Truex said. “That being said, with the new package, it is a lot different. There’s no question.
“But places that we’ve had success before, it seems to translate a little bit and I think a lot of that is just driver confidence and understanding the race track and team kind of understanding it as well. Hopefully we have the right approach. It’s going to be a tough weekend.”
That hasn’t necessarily proved to be any more challenging. Truex has eight top-10 finishes, including runner-up showings at Atlanta and Phoenix in addition to his three victories this season. He’s led 434 of his total 459 laps out front in just his three wins.
And his work at Pocono has set the bar of late. He has three top-10 finishes in the last four races on the 2.5-mile track and led laps in four of the last five races. He won in 2015 and 2018 and started from the front row three consecutive races from 2016-17.
“Being on a roll, it’s just a credit to the team and the hard work finally coming together,” Truex said. “Doing all the little things right.
“You know the pit crew has really come on strong and gelled as a unit and it takes everything at this level to win races and to put yourself in position consistently. Just coming together as a group and kind of starting to find that momentum. It’s one of those things in this sport that’s really hard to find and once you do, you want to do all you can to hang onto it because you never know when it’s going to go away.”
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