Truex hopes new spotter will help end superspeedway drought

AVONDALE, ARIZONA - NOVEMBER 09: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway on November 09, 2019 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Before 2019, NASCAR’s short tracks were pitching a shutout against 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr.

That changed dramatically when Truex won the April 13, 2019 event at Richmond Raceway. The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota completed the Richmond sweep in September before winning for the first time at Martinsville in late October.

In June of 2020, during last year’s pandemic-interrupted season, Truex won a second straight race at the .526-mile Virginia speedway, giving him four short-track victories over a 14-month period. There remains, however, one glaring hole in Truex’s resume—something he hopes to correct this year.

Truex has never won a superspeedway race. To try to erase that deficiency at Daytona and Talladega, he has changed spotters this year, from Clayton Hughes to Drew Herring, who has NASCAR Xfinity Series driving experience with JGR (and a best finish of fourth at Kentucky Speedway in 2012).

“I’ve got a list of things I’ve been working on,” Truex said. “I brought in a change in spotter this year to try to be better at speedways, which is now… you look at the 550 (horsepower) package, basically speedway racing on restarts for a few laps.

“Things like that, we’ve been working on to get better at. It’s everything. It takes all of that to win these races. They are very difficult to win. We look at every avenue.”