Truex has won four races this season – second-most among the title contenders – and won the spring race at Phoenix Raceway, the venue of Sunday’s title race.
Yet Truex seems to have flown under the radar because three of his victories came early in the season.
While he had to fight and claw for the fourth-place finish at Martinsville last weekend that allowed him to advance to the title race, Truex’s championship hopes appear to have improved dramatically.
“Phoenix has been a good track for us; 750 [horsepower] tracks have been kind of what we’ve been our best at this year, not only JGR but the #19 team especially,” Truex said. “All four of our wins have come with this package and these rules.
“I enjoy the 750 stuff, so I’m fired up and excited about this weekend. I think we can get it done.”
Goodyear tyre advantage?
Truex may also have another factor on his side.
Not only did he win earlier this year at Phoenix, but in the four races this season that have featured the same Goodyear tyre selection that will be used in this Sunday’s race (spring Phoenix, New Hampshire and both Richmond races), Truex won two of them.
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Auto-Owners Insurance
Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images
He is the only one of four Championship 4 drivers to win a race this season on that tyre selection.
Strangely enough, as good as Larson has been all year, he fared the worst among the four title contenders on the tyre being used this weekend. In the four previous races, Larson had an average finish of 9.5 and led a grand total of nine laps.
Truex plans to use every advantage he can on Sunday and having won the spring Phoenix race with what he called the best car he ever had at this track it just raises his confidence.
“We need to make sure we hit it right. And obviously that (win) was a while ago. Things have changed, rules, tech procedures,” he said.
“Things will be a little bit different. Certainly, the weather is going to be different. It’s going to be hotter out here than it was then. No PJ-1 [traction compound], just spraying resin. The track is going to be different.
“You’ve got to go out there and practice and do what you always do. That is use your best guess intuition and your feel and your gut, engineering and all those things that go into it and put it all together.
“Hopefully, you mash it all together and come out with a winning car on Sunday.”