Martin Truex Jr. became the first driver locked into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with his victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway two weeks ago and his No. 19 Toyota team wasted no time in getting to work.
Truex has had solid finishes in the two races since his Martinsville win â both sixth-place finishes â but he didnât lead a single lap at either Texas or Sunday at ISM Raceway.
Asked following Sundayâs race how beneficial the last two weeks have been to prepare for next Sundayâs title race, Truex said: âYou know, for having half a team and an old car and not really working on it, I thought we had a second- or third-place car today, so thatâs pretty good.â
So, what exactly did Truex mean by his comments?
As it turned out, a team spokesman confirmed to Motorsport.com that team sent car chief Blake Harris back to North Carolina on Saturday to continue work on its Homestead car. Also, another one of the teamâs regular road crew members skipped the entire Phoenix race weekend altogether to remain in the shop and work on the Homestead car.
The older car comment alluded to his Phoenix car not being the most up-to-date car in the JGR fleet as more priority was put on his teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch needing to qualify for the Championship 4 in the Phoenix race.
Still, Truex was a contender for the win Sunday, getting an opportunity to challenge for the lead on a late-race restart.
âI know weâre ready for Homestead, and feeling really confident about that.Â We had a really strong car on the long runs (at Phoenix), we just would get killed on restarts there,â he said. âI was in a good spot on that last one to make a run at (Hamlin), and went down into (Turn) 1 and it just went straight.Â We fought that all day long, just took us too long to get going.
âExcited for Homestead, and canât say enough about everybody back at JGR.Â To put three cars in the Championship 4 is pretty incredible.â
With Truex, Hamlin and Busch making up three of the four drivers competing for the series title this season, Truex said he wasnât sure what it would be like racing his teammates for the championship.
âItâs going to be interesting for sure,â he said.Â âI feel like weâre here for a reason, and thatâs because we all work together so well.
âHopefully, weâll do that the same this week and throughout the weekend next weekend and then Sunday let the best team win.â