Martin Truex Jr. led the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with seven wins in 2019 and finished second in the standings for the second consecutive season.
Since the start of the 2017 season, no other driver has won more races than Truex Jr., who took the checkered flag 19 time in that span. This season, Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn made the transition over to Joe Gibbs Racing after capturing the 2017 championship and a runner-up finish during Furniture Row Racing’s last season of competition in 2018.
While Truex Jr. has accomplished a lot in the last three seasons he checked one box off that has eluded him since making his first Cup start back in 2004 and that was winning at a short track. Not only did he win, but Truex dominated this season at tracks less than 1-mile in length, winning three times and leading a series high 811 laps in the six races. Truex swept the season at Richmond Raceway with his first career short-track win coming in the spring race.
“I think being able to go everywhere and feel like you can win, to a driver, it’s very gratifying,” Truex Jr. said. “For me personally, to win Richmond finally after so many close calls, should have won a bunch of them, felt good to get that monkey off our back.”
Truex’s third win at a short track came at the historic Martinsville Speedway in the playoffs that catapulted him to the Championship 4 for the fourth time in his career. He dominated the race, leading 464 of the 500 laps to mark the most laps led in a race by a single driver since 1992 when Kyle Petty led 484 at Rockingham.
“To win Martinsville was huge for me personally,” Truex Jr. said. “Early in my career, it was a tough track. I dreaded going there the first couple times. It went pretty bad the first few times. To be able to finally crack that one, check that box, was really sweet.”
Other wins for Truex in 2019 came at Dover International Speedway in the spring, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the road course at Sonoma and the playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Truex’s Dover win – his third at the track – came after starting at the rear of the field when his car failed pre-race inspection. The wins at Charlotte and Sonoma were also each his third at the respective tracks.
When it came to the playoffs, Truex led all drivers in wins (3), average finish (5.8) and laps led (757) in the 10 races.
Truex led 103 laps in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but a miscue on a pit stop when the team swapped the front tires hindered his chances at making a run for a second title. He came back to finish second, but was 4.6 seconds behind teammate and champion Kyle Busch at the checkered flag.
“Ultimately it came down to track position, and I felt like if I could have been up front and controlled the race, I could have drove away from them,” Truex Jr. said. “At the end we were quite a bit quicker, but it was too much of a gap. Yeah, it’s part of the deal. You’ve got to be perfect, you know, and one mistake probably cost us a shot at it.
“Unfortunate, but that’s the way it goes. We tried hard, we had a hell of a season and congrats to the 18 bunch.”
2019 Driver Season Reviews