Martin Truex Jr. is doing Martin Truex Jr. things in his first year racing for Joe Gibbs Racing.
At least he’s almost doing Martin Truex Jr. things.
The driver of the No. 19 Toyota is seventh in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings and has six top-10 finishes in seven starts heading into Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
But the 2017 series champion, who has 16 wins since the start of 2016, is yet to find Victory Lane. He’s hoping to get there soon.
“We haven’t won yet so we’re not there yet,” Truex said. “I feel really good about where we are. For us it’s been just trying to figure out the new package more than anything. It’s just figuring out the little details. We’ve been close. We’re focusing a little more on Fridays [qualifying] when we unload. We’ve been off a little bit and have to catch up. On race days we’ve been strong.”
Truex has qualified inside the top 10 in just four of the seven races this year but his eighth-place finish Sunday in Martinsville was his sixth-straight top-10 showing. Playing catch-up on Sunday hasn’t been an issue but Truex thinks once his team can take advantage of better qualifying efforts and pit stall spots, the wins won’t be far behind.
One area Truex has had no issues is making the switch to JGR after spending the last five years with Furniture Row Racing. But both Truex and his crew chief of the last four years both made the move to JGR and there have been no issues with the transition.
“I don’t know if there’s been a big adjustment,” Truex said. “I don’t feel like we’ve had to make one. We’ve worked so closely with them in the past it almost feels like not a lot has changed for me. For Cole there has been a lot of changes but for me I’m still doing all the same things. I deal with a lot of the same people. It’s been really smooth for me.”
While Truex hasn’t won this year it’s already been a great start for JGR. Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500 and Kyle Busch is off to a fast start with a pair of victories.
“It’s been easy to go to this team,” he said. “I know what they’re capable of. I understand the systems and the cars. Everything has been as good as I imagined it would be. It’s been great to see everything they put into the teams. I’m a very lucky guy to be there and hopefully I continue to perform.”
Truex, who hasn’t won since last year’s race at Kentucky, would love nothing better than to see his 24-race winless string end at TMS. It’s possible, too. Truex is winless in 27 starts at TMS but has had good runs. He started on the pole in the fall race in 2012 and has had 15 top-10 finishes, including four on the top five. He’s had his chances to win in the past.
“It’s a good place to race and has a lot of great turns,” Truex said. “It’s always fun. I like the race track. The old track and the new track have been really good for me, but I haven’t been able to break through. We’ve been close so many times and I feel like we’ve been in position before. One of these days we’re going to get the cowboy hat.”