JOLIET, Ill – Martin Truex Jr’s win over Kyle Busch in last weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race proved a key stat – Truex is just as good as Busch has been over the last few seasons in NASCAR’s premiere level.
But, if you didn’t dig deeper, you would think that Busch has been the most dominating driver in NASCAR lately. Truex though, only has one less win than Busch since the start of the 2016 season as the next closest isn’t even really in the same zip code.
Combined, they’ve won exactly half of the 16 races run in 2019. Each have went to victory lane four times a piece. But, Busch does have a series best 10 top five finishes and 15 top 10’s this year and enters Sunday’s Camping World 400 (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) trailing Joey Logano by just one point for the championship lead.
Busch’s teammate in Truex is fifth in the standings as he has seven top five’s and 10 top 10’s. As the title appears to have come down to these two right now, how is the chemistry within the walls of JGR?
“I would say that it’s a friendly rivalry,’’ Busch said on Saturday at the Chicagoland Speedway. “The way we go about it, we put everything out on the table. We have crashed each other a few times and we have been pissed at each other a few times, but a couple weeks later we are back to business and we are joking around in meetings and we are working with one another and stuff like that.
“You are going to have those situations that happen just because of how close we are running. We try to give each other the space you need and the respect that each of us deserve. Sometimes we run into one another, but that happens. But it has been good overall.”
Truex agreed with Busch’s assessment saying that the mutual respect is there and even a certain acceptance and fondness of their newly-strengthened friendship since Truex joined JGR this season.
“I think it’s definitely more of a friendly rivalry now that we are the same shop,’’ Truex said of their relationship. “I think there were some challenges throughout the years with two different teams. It wasn’t always on-track stuff. Definitely now, it’s more a friendly rivalry. It has been really good.”
The other reason this comes up is because if you go back to the 2017 Brickyard 400, Busch and Truex crashed just past the midway mark of the race on a restart while they were running 1-2. They had the top two cars that day and they took each other out. It led to Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens nearly getting into a fight with one of Truex’s pit crew members.
Then though, Truex was with Furniture Row Racing, JGR’s satellite team. Truex, was still Busch’s top threat to win the title then. Now, they’re teammates under the same umbrella competing for the same piece of real estate – this time as teammates.