Truex aims for more Monster Mile success

Seth Ivey of Dover gets his helmet signed by Monster Energy Cup driver Martin Truex Jr. before Monster Energy Cup practice at Dover International Speedway in Dover on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — When one of NASCAR’s hottest drivers comes to one of his best tracks, good things are likely to follow.

That’s the position Martin Truex Jr. finds himself in.

Truex has started the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series postseason on fire, winning two of the first three races. The series now comes to Dover International Speedway, where the Mayetta, N.J. product has had plenty of success.

The Cup Series race, the Drydene 400, will begin at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Qualifying is at 1:35 p.m. today.

Martin Truex Jr. talks with crew members in the garage before the Monster Energy Cup practice at Dover International Speedway in Dover on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Truex won the last race contested at the Monster Mile, leading 132 laps in the spring for his third career victory at the track.

He has recorded six top-fives in his last seven races in Dover and has top-10s in nine of his last 11. The last time Truex did not finish in the top-15 at the Monster Mile was the spring race in 2013.

Even with NASCAR switching through numerous racing packages, Truex has been able to continue his success at Dover.

“It’s definitely different,” Truex said of the current package. “I think the biggest thing is you’re just going faster. We’re using more throttle and using less brake, mostly carrying more speed in the corners. Yeah, you’re just driving it as fast as you can go. It’s really fast around here with this package. I think it’s fun.”

Truex enters the weekend with six wins on the year. The 39-year-old also has 12 top-fives and 18 top-10s to currently sit second in the point standings behind Kyle Busch as the playoff field was whittled down to eight drivers after last week’s race at Charlotte’s Roval.

Martin Truex Jr. during the Monster Cup practice at Dover International Speedway on Friday. Special to the Delaware State News/Pete Hinson

Truex became the fourth driver ever to win the first two races of the playoffs thanks to victories at Las Vegas and Richmond in September joining Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. Only Stewart, in 2011, of those three drivers went on to win the championship.

Truex, the 2017 Cup Series champion, thinks he can rely on his experience during the hotly contested postseason.

“It’s definitely easier when you’ve done it before and understand the pressure,” Truex said.

But he knows younger drivers like Chase Elliott, who won last fall’s race at Dover and won last week at the Charlotte Roval, are big threats for the title.

“I think it can go either way,” Truex said. “It depends where you’re at with your team. I think experience helps for sure, especially if you get in a bad situation or your back is against the wall and you need to keep your head straight.”

Truex has good reason to feel confident in his team, Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs cars have won 15 of the 29 Cup races this year.

If Truex wins again this weekend, it will be the most amount of Cup wins for him at a single track. He currently has three career victories at Dover, Charlotte and Sonoma.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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