Martin Truex Jr. makes a pit stop at Bristol Motor Speedway. (HHP/Chris Owens photo)

Playoff Contender Truex Doesn’t Need ‘More Catastrophes’

CONCORD, N.C. — Martin Truex Jr. wasn’t too sure about his odds coming into the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

He’s had a bit of an erratic history on the part-road course, part-oval, with his record highlighted by a lone pair of top 10s since the 2.23-mile track was added to the schedule in 2018.

But that wasn’t the primary cause for concern for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400 is the third race in the Round of 12, meaning four drivers will be eliminated from the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs following the 109-lap race.

While Truex is currently ranked sixth, 17 points above the cutline, his recent track record is somewhat troubling. His best finish since the playoffs began was 17th at Texas Motor Speedway. According to the 2017 Cup Series champion, that isn’t going to cut it.

Martin Truex Jr. is currently sixth in the playoff standings. (HHP/Chris Owens photo)

“Hopefully no more catastrophes, because we’ve had a lot of stuff happen in the playoffs that have been tough,” Truex said. “But I’ve had a lot worse things happen than this in racing, so we’ll be fine.”

Despite the possibilities, the 43-year-old has remained level-headed in his approach and doesn’t plan to do anything drastic to secure a spot in the Round of Eight.

Of course, unless, the situation calls for it. 

“We just need a decent day. We don’t need any miracles. We don’t need to win. We don’t need to do anything crazy,” Truex said. “I think if we get some stage points in the top 10, we’ll be in good shape, but you never know how it all plays out.”

The Roval has been known to be a volatile stage for racing in the past, with some playoff drivers often increasing aggression due to their win-and-in situations.

But with the restart zone moving from the frontstretch to the final chicane — which was NASCAR’s effort to reduce the number of turn one accidents — the No. 19 driver is less worried about catastrophe striking.

“I wouldn’t call it Talladega at all by any means,” Truex said. “I think with the restart zone change, it’s going to be a little more straightforward. But this is a difficult track to pass on. So track position’s going to be huge. Restarts are always the concern here, but aside from that, it’s been a pretty clean place.”

On the heels of a mid-week hunting trip with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Truex is also feeling mentally renewed as he comes into the race weekend.

“I don’t know how you could do this job otherwise,” Truex said. “I don’t know how you could just do it every single day and be a hundred percent into it, but I’m not everyone else either. I like to get away, there’s hobbies I love to do and I do the work with my team when they need me.”

After qualifying 11th on Saturday, Truex will get back to work on Sunday afternoon during the Bank of America ROVAL 400.  The start time for the Cup Series race is 2 p.m. (ET).