It’s a shame that Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. couldn’t capitalize and score good finishes last weekend in Texas. Blaney, left with a 37th place finish after a mechanical failure on his No. 12 Ford. Truex, never really had any speed in his No. 19 Toyota and came home 12th.
The problem is, both were running well beforehand.
Blaney, entered with three straight top five finishes on the season. Truex, had five top eight finishes in-a-row.
But, with what’s looming ahead of them, they could be in some trouble in the month of April.
Where this is glaring is, Truex has only led 10 laps in 2019. See, if this were any other year, we’d not be sweating it because Truex was leading a ton of laps and hogging stage wins. By this point in each of the last two seasons, he had already won a race two, meaning he was playoff eligible.
So, despite his normal month of April struggles, it didn’t mean a whole heck of a lot.
Well, with a quieter start to this season, it ring louder at the end of the month.
Bristol starts a stretch where Truex and Blaney could struggle at.
In Bristol, Truex finished 30th in both races a year ago. He also has just one top 10 finish in his last 13 starts overall there. His last top five on the .533-mile short track came way back in 2012. Furthermore, he’s finished 20th or worse in nine of his last 11 Bristol starts.
Then, it’s to Richmond. While he does have four top 10 finishes in his last six starts there, he only has two top five finishes since 2008.
After that it’s a week off to observe Easter then to Talladega, a place where Truex has just one top five finish since 2007. He also hasn’t scored a top 10 since 2015 either. His last five starts on the high banked 2.66-mile oval are – 40th, 35th, 23rd, 26th, 23rd respectively.
Don’t expect a whole lot out of Truex this month.
Same for Blaney. He’s never finished in the top five in Cup competition at Bristol. His spring race finishes are 11th, 33rd and 35th respectively. Three of his last five Bristol starts have resulted with a finish of 33rd or worse. Combine that with two straight 22nd place finishes earlier on in the season, and you get why he could be worried.
Couple that with no top 15 finishes nor laps led in Richmond, and you see a driver reeling heading into Easter. After that is Talladega where despite Blaney being a good plate racer, his finishes are there on the Alabama superspeedway. Blaney, has just one top five finish and two top 10’s in nine Cup starts there. His last four finishes are 39th, 18th, 11th and 29th respectively.
See where this could potentially be heading for these two drivers?
Where they could reverse their luck is at the next two races though. Blaney and Truex have led a ton of laps recently at Bristol (Blaney) and Richmond (Truex).
In Bristol, Blaney led 100 laps in the spring race last year and 121 in the August night race. He just had bad luck.
In Richmond, Truex has led 121 laps or more in three of his last five starts there. Again, just hasn’t had the finishes.
If they can find the finishes, then forget all of this. But, what about the last several years says they can either?