Truex Jr. encouraged after final practice

DOVER, DE - MAY 03: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 SiriusXM Toyota, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Gander RV 400 at Dover International Speedway on May 3, 2019 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. was particularly happy with his 13th-place qualifying effort on Friday.

In fact, Truex had the second fastest Toyota in time trials, behind only eighth-place Denny Hamlin. Saturday’s final practice—the only practice of the day, as it turned out, with the opening session canceled because of a wet race track—was a different story.

Truex was second fastest in Saturday’s practice session behind only 11-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson, and he was pleased with the progress.

“We gained on it some, for sure,” said the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. “Yesterday in qualifying, I was a little disappointed with 13th, to be honest with you. I felt like we could do a better job than that, and we typically qualify better than that here. Again, a whole different rules package and a short practice and we just missed it a little.

“That’s part of the deal here. The field is so close, and you gain or lose a tenth (of a second), and you can go from top-five to 13th. That’s just the way it is. Missed it a little bit yesterday but made some improvements today, and I’m feeling really good about where the car is. It’s really comfortable to drive, and I think there’s some things we can do to make it better. Our speeds and our averages all look pretty good.

“Here, you get in the race and it’s all about having a car that drives the way you need it to, not so much about how fast it is. As the track goes that direction, it suits my style here, and that’s typically when I’ve been at my best. When the track gets rubbered in, it gets greasy and gets slick. That’s kind of when I’ve been able to do really well here. We’ll see what happens, but feeling good about it right now.”

Greg Engle