A year ago, Martin Truex, Jr. clinched a spot in the NASCAR’s championship field in Miami by winning a grandfather clock in Martinsville.
This year, it looks like the Joe Gibbs Racing driver of the No. 19 car has no choice but to do it again to contend for a title in Phoenix.
Truex still has to race at Texas Motor Speedway Wednesday in the middle race of NASCAR’s Round of Eight, which has been postponed for three straight days because of wet weather. But the 2017 Cup Series champion will start from the back of the pack after getting docked 20 points for an illegal spoiler during pre-race inspection.
Entering the race at Texas, Truex remains in seventh place in the points standings and is now 51 points behind the cutoff for the championship field of four.
Which means a win at either Texas or Martinsville is likely the only way Truex can race for a title in Phoenix.
“You’re always excited about the opportunity to go to a place where you’ve been successful. Especially recently. But it definitely doesn’t guarantee that it’ll go the same this time around,” Truex, Jr. said. “So you’ve got to just do your normal preparation and try to make all the right decisions. Martinsville can be a wild race depending on how the cautions fall. Especially towards the end. Just take it one at a time. Race one stage at a time. Just try to put yourself in the best position throughout the race no matter where it’s at.”
Truex, Jr. looks to become the first driver to win at Martinsville three straight times since Denny Hamlin accomplished the feat from 2009-10. In last fall’s race, Truex led 464 of the 500 laps on his way to victory lane.
Sunday’s Cup Series race at Martinsville is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.