Martin Truex Jr. looks on at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. (HHP/Chris Owens)

Despite Playoff Struggles, Truex Hanging On 

Ever since Martin Truex Jr. locked up the NASCAR Cup Series regular season championship at Daytona (Fla.) Int’l Speedway, it’s been tough sledding.

Truex, who scored three victories in the first 26 races, hasn’t finished inside the top 10 since the penultimate race of the regular season at New York’s Watkins Glen Int’l in August, seven races ago.  

Since the NASCAR Playoffs started at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Truex’s best finish is 17th at Texas Motor Speedway. 

The cliché phrase, survive and advance, has certainly been the story of Truex’s playoff run thus far. 

While lurking on the bubble in the Round of 16, Truex managed to advance by the skin of his teeth. The automatic 15 bonus points the driver of the No. 19 carries in every round he advances during the playoffs has proven to be an asset.

Martin Truex Jr. at Bristol Motor Speedway. (HHP/Chris Owens photo)

On Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Truex stayed out of trouble, but was unable to tally any stage points en route to an 18th-place finish. 

While his run was admittedly a struggle, Truex remained optimistic following his run. 

“It was alright. I thought our Bass Pro Camry was pretty good, just could never get in the right lane at the right time,” Truex said. “We were stuck on the bottom there in the end, I think with three to go we were up to 10th or 12th and three laps later we were 19th. 

“Nowhere to make any moves, just everything was clogged and you just kind of rode there and got what you could.”

Despite it being a rough stretch for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Truex enters the Round of 12 cutoff race at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway ROVAL with a 17-point advantage on the cutline. 

“Tough day, but I think we are in good shape going to the ROVAL,” Truex said optimistically. “We can take care of business there, just need a good day.”

The 2017 Cup Series champion has two seventh-place finishes at the 2.28-mile road course, with his last coming in 2020.