It’s fitting that Martin Truex Jr.’s next race is at Pocono Raceway. Few tracks sum up his 2021 season better than the Tricky Triangle.
The South Jersey native has nine top-10 finishes in 17 Cup Series starts this season, and his three wins are second only to Kyle Larson, who has soared past Truex thanks to a three-race winning streak. Truex has also finished outside the top 20 in six races.
Truex is one of four drivers with multiple wins at Pocono, but he also has finished outside of the top 20 there seven times. It’s a similar story to how he’s second in wins this season but seventh in the points standings.
“It’s kind of like a snowball effect,” Truex said. “You have one bad week then you don’t have practice and qualifying.”
Consistency is the key. Truex is in year two without his long-term crew chief, Cole Pearn. Pearn resigned at the end of 2019 after three straight Championship 4 race appearances, and 2020 wasn’t as consistently good.
Last season, Truex missed the Championship 4 race for the first time in four years. But the 2021 start was on pace with the best years of his career before the flat tires, wrecks, and crashes in the rainy weather.
Truex has just one top-five finish in his last five races after winning three of his first 12 starts.
“At the end of the day, if you’re fast every weekend, that just takes care of the rest,” Truex said. “We’ve had some bad luck.”
Few drivers have experience at the Tricky Triangle like Truex, who has won there twice. He knows how to adjust to the three corners based on where the sun is and how that impacts the traction. He’s had 30 starts at Pocono and finished in the top 10 in both races of last season’s Cup Series doubleheader.
Denny Hamlin’s six wins at Pocono are the most of active drivers and tied with Jeff Gordon for the track record. Kyle and Kurt Busch also join Truex as active drivers with multiple wins at Pocono.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Truex said. “Pocono’s been a hit-or-miss place for us. We’ve won a few times, and we’ve run terrible a few times in the past handful of years.”
Truex is scheduled to start 15th on Saturday at the Pocono Organics CBD 325 race. He finished sixth in his other start in the 15th spot, at Kansas Speedway. All three of Truex’s wins came with top-five starting positions.
The Cup Series doubleheader weekend concludes Sunday with the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.