Truex looks to solve short track “challenge” at Richmond

Race winner  Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry

Truex and his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team have been remarkably consistent to start 2024 with one top five and four top-10s in the first six races and no finish worse than 15th.

He was in the hunt for the win at both Phoenix and Bristol – where he earned a season’s-best second – but has yet to lock in a playoff spot with a win.

This weekend’s race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway will utilize the same short track aero package as Phoenix, a race in which Truex led the third-most laps and was won by his JGR teammate, Christopher Bell.

Over his last 10 starts at Richmond, Truex has three wins and has finished outside the top-10 just once.

Race winner Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry

Photo by: Logan Whitton / NKP / Motorsport Images

“From the first time I raced there in 2003, I’ve always enjoyed the track. There was a long period where I didn’t have great numbers there, but I felt like I loved the track and always ran well there and had a lot of crazy things happen there throughout my career,” Truex, 43, said.

“Once I got to Furniture Row (Racing), we started leading a ton of laps there. We also had a couple of heartbreaking finishes there where we should have won the race but didn’t and I wondered if it was ever going to happen.

“Then, we went on a streak there, so it’s been a great track and it’s a ton of fun.”

Despite his run of success at Richmond, Truex admits he has struggled somewhat on the series’ shorter tracks since the introduction of the Next Gen car at the beginning of the 2022 season.

His most recent win on a track shorter than a mile in length was at Richmond in the fall of 2021.

“Short tracks have been a challenge, but I feel like we’ve been gaining on it in the last year and certainly, starting at Phoenix, we had a strong car,” Truex said. “With the shifting and with how the brakes are on these cars, it’s so different than it was before.

“I think shifting has been the biggest difference, but you have the braking to go along with that. Then you have the independent rear suspension and the differential and all those things go along with each other to what we have now.

“We almost have more than the brakes and tires can even take, so it’s been tough to try and modulate that and try not to lock up the rear tires. It’s been a challenge.”

Truex hopes the new short track aero package will provide some much-needed help in facing those…

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