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Martin Truex Jr. Snaps 54 Race Winless Streak, Conquers Dover

Martin Truex Jr. has finally returned to Victory Lane. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Martin Truex Jr. has finally returned to Victory Lane. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

DOVER, Del. – In the words of a certain Diane Warren song made famous by Rod Stewart and Russell Watson, for Martin Truex Jr. and his pursuit of victory, “It’s been a long road getting from there to here.”

Certainly, Truex needed to have a bit of “Faith of the Heart” to weather through the storms of a frustrating 2022 season. Sure, the 42-year-old Mayetta, New Jersey native was consistent but was eliminated from the Playoffs field due to the numerous winners last year in the NASCAR Cup Series.

During the dry spell, some pointed out to Truex’s frustrations with his crew chief, James Small, and his No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry team. At times, it seemed like agony and defeat would be far more commonplace than the successes and accolades normally prevalent with this Joe Gibbs Racing combination.

Despite starting 17th and entering Monday’s Würth 400 on a 54-race winless streak dating back to the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders on Sept. 11, 2021, at Richmond Raceway, Truex liked his chances.

“It was a good race (in 2022),” Truex said in a team press release. “We were right there really close to being able to win. Hopefully, we can use what we learned there last year with our Bass Pro Shops Camry TRD and step it up a couple of notches.”

In the early going, Truex motored his way from his 17th starting position to place ninth in Stage 1. He advanced to a fourth place result in Stage 2, showcasing faith and confidence with his pre-race vibes and feelings.

When Truex took the lead for the first time on Lap 332, the thought started to dawn upon him. Would this finally be the day that he concluded his drought?

Life got a bit exciting when Joey Logano’s Turn 4 crash prompted the final caution of the race on Lap 388. With the lead lap contenders essentially caught up to Truex on the Lap 394 restart, the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion found himself in a spirited duel against Ryan Blaney.

Like Truex, Blaney was in the midst of a long, 56-race winless drought. Understandably, he battled Truex in a clean but dogged fashion for about a lap and a half in side-by-side fashion.

Truex's first day of May matched his finish at Dover. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Truex’s first day of May matched his finish at Dover. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Ultimately, Truex cleared Blaney off Turn 2 and drove to his first victory of the season, snapping hs winner’s circle drought.

Tallying a third, rain delayed triumph at Dover and 32nd career Cup win, it is likely one of Truex’s most memorable victories as he completed the Truex family sweep at Dover. Considering Ryan Truex’s A-Game 200 at Dover victory on Saturday, the elder sibling reflected on his family’s joyous experience, especially for his father, Martin Sr.

“Yeah, (he was) obviously excited,” Truex Jr. said. “It’s hard to read him. He’s pretty quiet when he’s at the track and all that. But just obviously really excited, really proud of his two sons going to Victory Lane.

“He got the chance to race here one time, and it scared the crap out of him. That’s kind of what I gather out of it. Really, really cool that Ryan and I both were able to win. Yeah, very neat.”

As Truex returned to Cup Victory Lane at Dover, Ross Chastain tallied a strong runner-up result.  However, his stellar performance was marred by a Lap 82, Turn 1 incident in which he tangled with Brennan Poole and ultimately eliminated the latter from the race along with Kyle Larson.

Following the race, Chastain apologized profusely to Poole and the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford team before reflecting on his battles with Truex.

Chastain won Stage 2 at Dover after duking it out with William Byron. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Chastain won Stage 2 at Dover after duking it out with William Byron. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

“We were just so close again for our No. 1 Jockey Chevy team and everybody at Trackhouse Racing, Advent Health, Moose Fraternity, Worldwide Express,” Chastain said. “It’s surreal to continue to do this and get to race against my heroes. I guess I told him (Truex) too many of my secrets last year after we went fishing.”

Although Blaney’s drought continues for another week, he had one of the most consistent performances that any driver could experience, starting third, tallying third place results in Stages 1 and 2, and placing third when all was said and done.

“Two was a good call,” Blaney said. “It put us on the front row and gave us a shot to try to win the race. I can’t drive any deeper into (Turn) 3 without wrecking both of us. That was a good race for a couple of laps.

“I felt like we ran third all day long. Big improvement from last year.”

Last year’s race at Dover was a microcosm of Truex’s perplexing season, often contending for wins before unfortunate circumstances befell his No. 19 team. On this occasion, fage was kinder to one of the newest members of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers list.

“I think throughout Stage 3, we fired off there, we got to second,” he said. “Both of us passed the 24. I almost had him passed before he passed the 24 for the lead I feel like, and then I made a bad decision there, and then he got by the 24, then I followed him.

“I was just kind of in his tracks there until the green flag stop really. I could get two, three car lengths, couldn’t get any closer, and I felt like I was a little faster than him, but he was just moving around on the racetrack to take the air away from me, and I wasn’t going to be able to pass him.”

Victory at last. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

Victory at last. (Photo: Josh Jones | The Podium Finish)

For all the talk about Truex’s apparent vex toward his team, he dispelled such notions by praising and giving credit to his crew for a job well done at Dover.

“Really, the difference in the race was the green flag cycle, jumping him by two laps or whatever we did there, coming out in front,” Truex said. “That was the difference. Felt like our cars were really equal, and whoever got out front was going to have the advantage, and that’s really what it came down to.

“But it was a good race, and he did a good job. We just kind of got him on pit road there.”

Stage 1 Top 10 Finishers

Byron-Hamlin-Blaney-Keselowski-Chastain/Buescher-Bell-Harvick-Truex Jr.-Stenhouse Jr.

Stage 2 Top 10 Finishers

Chastain-Byron-Blaney-Truex Jr.-Hamlin/Gibbs-Buescher-Reddick-Elliott-Bell

Würth 400 Top 10 Finishers at Dover

Truex Jr.-Chastain-Blaney-Byron-Hamlin/Bell-Reddick-Keselowski-Buescher-Berry

Editor’s Notes

Marty Czekala of RSN Trackside on ROC Sports Network contributed to this article directly on-site from Dover Motor Speedway in Dover, Delaware.


Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson 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 is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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