Could Martinsville Be Martin Truex’s Ticket To The NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4?

Story By: TYLER OVERSTREET / JOE GIBBS RACING – HUNTERSVILLE, NC – Martin Truex Jr. has won the last two NASCAR Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway. In those two events, he has led 596 of 1,000 total laps run at the .526-mile oval.

Last fall, Truex started third and led a Martinsville-record 464 laps on the way to securing his spot in the Championship 4. Earlier this season, he bounced back from a pit road penalty and led the final 131 laps to claim the victory.

Overall, he has six top-five finishes in the past seven races at Martinsville.

PENULTIMATE PROWESS: Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have won the next-to-last race of the season each of the past three years. Matt Kenseth’s victory at Phoenix Raceway in 2017 started a three-year run for the organization which also includes Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin earning their spots in the Championship 4 in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

TEXAS RECAP: Truex finished second in both stages and the race on Wednesday at Texas Motor Speedway. After starting from the rear of the field, he quickly worked his way towards the front thanks to a fast car and pit strategy. Once he was at the front, he stayed there as he led 53 laps on the day to earn his fifth runner-up finish of the season.

STAGE MASTER: Truex, the all-time leader in stage wins with 43, is tied for the most stage victories in the playoffs with three. He ranks second in stage points earned through eight playoff races with 85.

STATISTICAL RANKINGS: The No. 19 team ranks in the top five in multiple statistical categories, including top-five finishes (third-tied), top-10s (second-tied), average finishing position (fourth) and laps led (fifth). According to Loop Data provided by NASCAR, Truex also ranks in the top five in green flag speed (first), fastest drivers late in a run (first), fastest laps run (third), fastest drivers early in a run (third), fastest on restarts (fourth), percentage of laps run on lead lap (fourth), driver rating (fifth), laps in the top 15 (fifth) and speed by segment (fifth).

AUTO-OWNERS: Auto-Owners Insurance will be featured as the primary sponsor of Truex’s No. 19 Camry for Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. The Lansing, Michigan-based company offers multiple lines of insurance, including life, home, auto and business to customers in 26 states. In their first season with Joe Gibbs Racing, Auto-Owners was on board for monumental moments like Truex’s first victory for the team at Richmond in April, his 500th career start at Michigan in August and the No. 19 team’s dominant Martinsville win that propelled them to a Championship 4 appearance.

RACE WITH MARTIN: More than 1,900 Auto-Owners associates who donated to the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation will have their names displayed on the hood of Truex’s No. 19 Camry for this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway. Through multiple programs, Auto-Owners has helped the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation raise more than $100,000 in 2020.

JGR AT MARTINSVILLE: Joe Gibbs Racing owns 12 NASCAR Cup Series victories at Martinsville Speedway, including Truex’s back-to-back wins on the .526-mile oval. In 142 combined starts at the track, the organization has tallied 50 top-five finishes, 76 top-10s and 5,518 laps led. Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart join Truex on the list of drivers who have wheeled JGR entries to victory lane at Martinsville Speedway.

TUNE IN: Coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway begins Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.

Martin Truex Jr., Driver of the No. 19 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry

What is your confidence level heading to Martinsville in a must-win situation to continue in the Playoffs?

“It’s high. I’m excited about going to Martinsville. We know we can win there and obviously we’ve shown that in the past. It’s a new race and a new week. We have to figure out how to be better than we’ve been there before because I feel like everybody else will get better too. I’m looking forward to it and I’m excited for the opportunity to get to do this. Hopefully we can go there and do what we have to do to put ourselves in another championship race.”