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Cody Kluge Cody Kluge BVM Sports Journalist/Editor
Martin Truex Jr. ‘gaining some momentum’ going into Dover

Martin Truex Jr. ‘gaining some momentum’ going into Dover

DOVER, Del. (BVM) – Along with the likes of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. is one of the longest-tenured active drivers in NASCAR. Across his 18 full-time seasons in the Cup Series, Truex Jr. has amassed 31 victories, and became a Cup Series champion in 2017.

This weekend, the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will return to Dover Speedway, the site of his first-ever Cup Series win all the way back in 2007.

“It’s always fun,” Truex Jr. said during an interview on BVM Sports’ Cup Connection. “I think for me, thinking about the race, it’s just always a little bit of extra confidence. It’s been a great track for us over the years … It’s just a place we’ve always been really strong.”

In addition to the win in 2007, Truex Jr. also took home the checkered flag at Dover in 2016 and 2019, part of 18 top-10 finishes at the track in his career. 

Dover may very well be a welcome sight for the driver of the No. 19 car and his team, as Truex Jr. has yet to earn an official victory this season after winning the Clash at the Coliseum to kick off the year back in February.

However, the team has put together some strong runs recently, finishing seventh at Bristol, and third at Martinsville. The team also had itself in good position for another high finish last weekend until being involved in a wreck at Talladega. 

“A little bit of up and down,” Truex Jr. said about his season so far. “We’ve had some good speed, honestly. Even Talladega last weekend, I felt like it was probably the best race I may have ever put together at Talladega. Unfortunately got caught up in that last lap wreck. Just feel like our team is in a really good place, and we’re right on the cusp of breaking free and doing some really good things.”

As a result, Truex Jr. is coming into Sunday’s Dover race with plenty of confidence.

“Looking forward to it,” Truex Jr. said. “The team has been working hard, doing a great job, and I feel like lately we’ve been gaining some momentum. Our cars have been fast, so, excited to see what we can do with that at Dover.”

While Dover has historically been a place of success for Truex Jr., what could make this year’s race extra challenging is a weather forecast that includes cool temperatures and plenty of rain.

Qualifying is crucial no matter the race, but particularly at the onemile track of Dover. Should it get rained out, Truex Jr. will start towards the back of the pack on Sunday thanks to the wreck at Talladega last week. Still, he thinks his team can manage through it.

“Everywhere is important,” Truex Jr. said. “I think qualifying, especially with the new car, we all run so close together speed wise, and it’s just really, really hard to differentiate yourself from the field. Track position is always important, and Dover is a place that I think it’s extra important.

“That’s gonna make things really more difficult. But I think it’s something that we can get through … It’s really just about getting the car right.”

In addition to a race victory, Truex Jr. is still searching for his first stage win of the season, a somewhat surprising fact considering he has racked up 56 stage wins over the course of his career, the most among active drivers. 

Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops No. 19 Toyota Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Cup Series
Martin Truex Jr. is still searching for his first stage points of the 2023 season. (Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

With races at Dover, Kansas and Darlington left before this year’s All-Star race, Truex Jr. is hoping to finally earn some stage points over the next few weeks.

“You’re just trying to do the best you can,” Truex Jr. said. “It’s really just about being consistent throughout the race and trying to be up front all day long. The way we race now, it’s literally qualifying laps every lap of the race. There’s no hanging out, there’s no taking it easy, waiting for the last 100 miles like back in the day. It’s go, go, go all day, and I enjoy that part of it. The stage points have been a good thing for us.”

While his on-track performance may not be exactly what he wanted at this point in the season, the driver of the No. 19 Toyota continues to make an incredible impact outside of the sport. A couple of weeks ago, NASCAR on Fox featured a project Truex Jr. has been involved with called Piper’s Wings, inspired by a 13-month-old girl named Piper who passed away due to a rare genetic disorder in 2020.

Her parents, Tyler and Kaitlyn Berryhill, decided to donate Piper’s organs to others in need. That’s when Truex Jr. got involved. 

For several years, the driver of the No. 19 Toyota has used his aviation company to transport organs. When he heard about Piper’s story, he renamed his aviation charity Piper’s Wings. 

“It was just something that really kind of just came together, and sounded like a great thing to be a part of,” Truex Jr. said. “It’s something we’re really excited about … We’re very proud to be a part of that and hopefully we can do some great things.”

This is certainly not the first time the New Jersey native has used his platform to give back, either. In 2007, he founded the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation to support children with pediatric cancer. Since, the organization has raised upwards of $8 million.

“I try not to make too big of a deal out of these things or to take too much credit,” Truex Jr. said. “For me personally, any time I feel like there’s a chance for me to do good, and to give back and to help, I just feel like it’s kind of what I owe back to society and to people that have treated me well and taken chances on me.”

While Truex Jr.’s work off the track is truly special, he remains focused on what he can accomplish on it. His team seems poised to find victory lane sooner than later, and a win at Dover this weekend would be a nice kick-start to what he hopes is ultimately a strong 2023 campaign.

As one of the oldest drivers in the Cup Series, there’s no telling just how many more races Truex Jr. might have left in his career, either. One of NASCAR’s other veteran drivers, Harvick, has already announced his plans to retire and join the Fox broadcast booth after this season. While there’s always a possibility Truex Jr. could follow suit, he’s just continuing to cherish every moment he has left in the No. 19.

“I’m still enjoying myself and having a great time,” Truex Jr. said. “Hopefully we can get some wins in the bank here pretty quick. Just kind of taking it as it comes. This is my 20th year, it’s hard to believe. Time just flies by when you’re always traveling and you’re always going. But still loving it, still enjoying it.”

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