Martin Truex Jr. is optimistic he’ll continue his winning ways as a member of Joe Gibbs Racing.
The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion moved to JGR in the aftermath of Furniture Row Racing closing its doors at the end of last season. Both Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn migrated to JGR after spending the last few seasons working as an affiliate team to the organization while at FRR.
But the transition period has not been a struggle so far for Truex Jr., who believes he’s poised to have a solid season as the new driver of the No. 19 Toyota.
“I would say that it was a lot easier,” Truex said when asked to compare the move to others in his racing career. “A lot less unknowns. Less nervous about it just because I know things. I talk about simple things like I know what their brakes are like. I know what their throttle pedal feels like. I know what kind of steering they run. When I’ve switched teams before it’s like starting over a lot of times.
“When I went from DEI to MWR it was like completely starting over. All new people. All different parts and pieces. All new equipment. Everything felt different. The approach was different. That’s where you kind of have that anxiety of how’s this really going to be. I think it’s going to be good, but I don’t know. There’s so many questions when you switch teams like that. For this transition for me, it was a lot easier because we worked so closely together the past couple of years.”
In fact Truex Jr. is so confident in how successful the move to JGR will be he thinks this year’s performance will exceed last year when he was part of the “Big 3” along with Kevin Harvick and new JGR teammate Kyle Busch. Truex Jr. believes that trio will pick up right where it left off last season.
“I think so,” he said. “Everybody in the garage wants to be one of those guys that are looked at as here’s the guys to beat every week. We all want to be there. It’s been fun to be in that position for a couple years. No guarantee that we’ll be there again. You never know who’s going to figure it out quick and come out – some guy could come out of nowhere this season, you never know because it’s going to be so different.
“I don’t know. There’s a lot to learn. I really don’t worry about all that stuff. I worry about results. I want to win races and if we do our jobs and if I’m happy with the job I’m doing then yeah, I’ll probably be one of those ‘Big 3’’.
The best way for Truex Jr. to have that prediction come to fruition would be with a win in the season-opening Daytona 500, a race that has eluded him so far in his career. However, Truex Jr. knows he’s not alone.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “I guess it can be frustrating, but anything that big is not easy to get. It’s just the way it is. You look at Dale Earnhardt, it took him 17 tries or something – 20. He won the most races at Daytona of anyone ever and he hadn’t won the Daytona 500, that just shows how hard it is to win.
“I don’t think that’s changed over the years. You look like a guy like Trevor Bayne – he came out of nowhere and won the thing and never won any other races. It’s one of those races where crazy things tend to happen. Huge stories tend to come out of it and that’s part of the reasons why it’s such a big deal.”