For the first time this season, Martin Truex Jr. takes over the top position in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings thanks to a hard-fought victory in last week’s Playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And he arrives at Richmond Raceway for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) the most recent winner there – earning the win last April.
Can he go back-to-back to trips to victory lane to start the Cup playoffs off with?
Truex’s five victories in 2019 are most in the series. He and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch are the only two drivers in the series to win at least four races a season the last four years. They each have won a series high 21 races since 2016. And neither appears to be slowing down.
Truex, has 24 wins to his credit during his career, 21 of those obviously over the last four seasons. What’s weird though is, out of those 24 wins, Truex has never gone back-to-back weeks with a victory.
Truex, specifically, boasts some important momentum now. He has 11 top-five and 16 top-10 showings through the opening 27 races and holds a three-point edge on second place Kevin Harvick in the Playoff driver standings following Las Vegas. He has five top-six finishes in the last seven races. His previous wins came in April (at Richmond), May (at Charlotte, Dover) and June (Sonoma).
Richmond has been a good place for Truex, who was third in this Playoff race last year and has five top-10 runs in the last seven races there. Ironically, his worst finish in that stretch was a 20th in the 2017 regular season finale at Richmond and Truex would go on to win his first Cup title two months later. He won four of the 10 Playoff races that year, including the Homestead-Miami season finale.
He’s also led at least 100 laps in five of his last six Richmond starts as well to go along with Joe Gibbs Racing winning three straight on the .75-mile oval and six of the last eight overall. Furthermore, he won the spring race at Richmond, won the last race of the season last Sunday night in Las Vegas and was quickest in final practice – if Truex is ever going to earn two straight wins, this is the time to do so.