Martin Truex Jr Prepares for Round of 8

41-year-old Martin Truex Jr. compartmentalizes his Cup career with humility and grace. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

41-year-old Martin Truex Jr. compartmentalizes his Cup career with humility and grace. (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

While Martin Truex Jr. showcases his prowess as one of the premier NASCAR Cup Series racers, he’s still the humble champion from Mayetta, New Jersey.

Naturally, Truex possesses his youthful energy and excitement as evident during his 18th Cup season. Sure, his hair has sprinkles of gray and his trademark goatee evolved into a beard.

However, at age 41, the 2017 Cup champion appreciates his journey and successes, even if it feels like a blur.

Although Truex's initial successes took place in 2004, he remains a staying power in Cup. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Although Truex’s initial successes took place in 2004, he remains a staying power in Cup. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

“Sometimes,” Truex said. “It just depends. I mean, on one hand, I feel like I’ve been doing this forever. And on the other, it feels like I just started yesterday. So, when you look back, you always realize just how fast time goes by. And, you know, it’s amazing to look and see just how long I’ve been doing. And, so, you know, obviously, I still feel very fortunate to be able to be racing at this level, racing for wins and winning races.

“And you know, lucky to be at a great organization with a great team and a lot of really good people around me. So, I’m just trying to, as always, hold up my end of the job and do a good job for everybody.”

The excellence that Truex demands upon himself goes beyond his prior 581 Cup starts. It goes beyond those 104 NASCAR XFINITY Series starts. In fact, it goes back to the New Jersian’s days competing in the ARCA Menards Series East, a proving grounds division pitting potential Cup stars with lifelong, regional stock car racers.

After making the move to Mooresville, North Carolina in 2000, Truex worked ardently on establishing himself in the NASCAR world. After striking up a friendship with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Truex’s first big break came with Chance 2 Motorsports in 2003, a team founded by Earnhardt and his stepmother Teresa Earnhardt.

Compiling 13 wins and two consecutive NASCAR XFINITY Series championships in 2004 and ’05, Truex advanced over to Cup in ’06. Nabbing his maiden Cup win at Dover International Speedway on June 4, 2007, the hardy Garden State native endured a near five-year winless drought.

Tried and Truex. (Photo: Landen Ciardullo | The Podium Finish)

Tried and Truex. (Photo: Landen Ciardullo | The Podium Finish)

For the better part of the 2010s, Truex built the reputations for Michael Waltrip Racing and Furniture Row Racing. In spite of the ebbs and flows during this period, Truex tallied 18 of his 31 Cup wins. Notably, Truex enjoyed a career season in ’17 with eight wins and the championship.

From the looks of things, there’s no slowdown with Truex’s tenacity. Moving over to Joe Gibbs Racing in ’19, he’s earned 12 additional wins and ranks third in this year’s Playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (1 p.m. CT on NBC).

Nowadays, a mature, focused Truex appreciates the support of racing fans across the country. In particular, Truex’s unmistakable No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry’s paint scheme and workmanlike appearance makes him quite appealing with stock car enthusiasts.

When asked about his growing popularity at the track, Truex smiled while expressing his gratitude.

"After last year and not having people around it, it's kind of renewed the appreciation." - Martin Truex Jr. on his fans (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

“After last year and not having people around it, it’s kind of renewed the appreciation.” – Martin Truex Jr. on his fans (Photo: Jonathan Huff | The Podium Finish)

“Oh, it’s awesome,” he said. “I love seeing No. 19 gear at the racetrack and meeting new fans. And, you know, obviously, after last year and not having people around it, it’s kind of renewed the appreciation, so to speak for, for having those guys around and to feel their energy, and see their excitement for what we do. So it definitely fuels us, you know, to be better, and then to hopefully win races for our fans.

“We know that’s what they want and that’s what they love to see. So I’m just excited to have everybody back the racetrack here the last few months or whatever, most of the season. But, I definitely love seeing the No. 19 supported at the racetrack and everywhere we go.”

This weekend, Truex aims to score his first Texas Cup race win. Surprisingly, Truex, who’s led 673 laps in his previous 31 starts, has been a bridesmaid on three occasions (2013, ’17 and ’20).

On the other hand, while Truex has flexed his muscles on the high speed ovals, he’s been adept at the road courses. Last weekend, Truex expressed his comfort with racing at those unique circuits like the Charlotte ROVAL.

"The field is always getting better, competition's always getting better." - Martin Truex Jr. on the close competition at road courses (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

“The field is always getting better, competition’s always getting better.” – Martin Truex Jr. on the close competition at road courses (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

“I just enjoy them,” he shared. “You know, I’ve raced on a road course for a long time. I grew up racing go karts on road courses and that certainly helped. But, you know, I just enjoy ’em. You know, honestly, I work hard at it still. You know, the field is always getting better, competition’s always getting better. So we have to continue to work hard try to find things and hopefully we found a few things that’s going to help us.”

Although Truex placed fourth and eighth in the first two stages of last Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL 400, a tangle with Joey Hand relegated the 18-year Cup veteran into a 29th place finish.

On the whole, Truex, in his second season with crew chief James Small, appreciates his journey in spite of the struggles he’s endured on and off the track. Ultimately, he acknowledged the hard work and effort put forth into realizing his dreams while enduring the adversities in his career.

Ain't no stopping Martin Truex Jr. now. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

Ain’t no stopping Martin Truex Jr. now. (Photo: Michael Guariglia | The Podium Finish)

“Well, I mean, you know, you kind of just learn to deal with it, fight through them,” Truex said. “I mean, I’ve had, you know, a pretty up and down career. If you look back through the years, the last, I guess, five years, (they) have really been kind of the highlights. But, I definitely went through a lot of struggles to get to where I’m at.

“It just makes you learn to appreciate things you have and the people that stand behind you and the fans as well. So, for me, I always believed in the dreams that I had to be a champion and was able to accomplish that, which is awesome. But you know, this sport is tough and there’s still challenges, still always learning, you’re still always being challenged to be better. And I enjoy that part of it. So, sometimes the struggles are really good fuel for getting better.”

Rob Tiongson

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes.

From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat.

Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Communications at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's just as happy to be a Texan.

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