Truex hoping for better luck as Bristol beckons

One of the keys to success in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is knowing how to deal with the stress, which is what Martin Truex Jr. believes he and his team do well.

Just weeks ago, Truex spoke about how a team cannot let any moment get too big while competing in the postseason. Coincidentally, Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, Truex and his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing group will need to practice what they preach as they try to overcome a seven-point deficit to advance into the next round.

“It’s a terrible spot to be in,” Truex said. “Last week, we didn’t even get a chance to race, which was disappointing. I felt like it was probably the best car I had on a mile-and-a-half all year long. I was really excited about it after coming off a tough Darlington race, and then two laps in, you feel like you’re in trouble with a flat tire, and it turns out you ran something over.


“It’s terrible bad luck. I don’t know what you do about it. You just move on and do the best you can tomorrow night. Obviously, it’s a bad spot to be in.”

It was a puncture to the right rear tire that resulted in a 36th-place finish for Truex after he crashed on lap four. A week prior, Truex struggled with the handling of his Toyota at Darlington Raceway, which he admitted afterward was because of the damage from hitting the wall in practice. He finished 18th.

Truex is the first driver below the Cup Series playoff grid cutline.

Bristol is not one of Truex’s best racetracks. He has never won at Bristol in 32 starts, and has an average finish of 20.8. A steering rack issue forced him to retire from the race last year, one of the five DNFs he has at Bristol.

“I guess a little bit,” Truex said of being nervous for Saturday night. “I think it’s been a lot of different issues over the years. We’ve run well here at times. We’ve certainly struggled at times, but I think everybody has. This place is tricky with the spray and the groove moving around.

“We won’t race where we practice. It’s a little bit of a challenge there, but all of the times we’ve run here, it’s always been a flat tire or a loose wheel. I can’t even use both hands to count all of the times that has happened. It’s just been a tough place, hopefully, no bad luck tomorrow night, and we can go just have a smooth race and hopefully have the performance to get the job done.”

Truex entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed, having won the regular season championship. NASCAR began awarding a regular-season championship in 2017 and since that time, the winner has never been knocked out of the postseason in the first round.

Asked if there is something wrong with the system if he becomes the first, Truex said, “I don’t think so. We just had two terrible races. That’s kind of the way it is. You can’t afford to have bad races, and we’ve had two of the three so far. Hopefully, tomorrow night goes better.”

Story originally appeared on Racer