TRUEX DRIVES TO FIRST TRUCK SERIES WIN
NASCAR Cup Champion Martin Truex Jr. drives to victory in first Truck Series start since 2006
BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 29, 2021) – Martin Truex Jr. scored his first career NASCAR Truck Series victory on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway on Monday afternoon. Truex becomes the 36th driver in NASCAR history to win a race in all three national series. It is the third consecutive win for Kyle Busch Motorsports and the fifth consecutive for Toyota to open the 2021 Truck Series season.
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt
Race 5 of 23 – 150 Laps, 75 Miles
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
2nd, BEN RHODES
3rd, Raphael Lessard*
4th, Todd Gilliland*
5th, Chase Briscoe*
6th, GRANT ENFINGER
9th, AUSTIN HILL
11th, BUBBA WALLACE
12th, STEWART FRIESEN
14th, MATT CRAFTON
28th, MIKE MARLAR
32nd, JOHNNY SAUTER
34th, CHANDLER SMITH
36th, DANNY BOHN
38th, DEREK KRAUS
39th, JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 51 Auto Owners Insurance Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 1st
How exciting was that Martin?
“It’s unbelievable really. I guess they had to put dirt on Bristol to get me back into victory lane here. It’s been a long time. That was a blast. I’m still really surprised. I wanted to run this race so I could get more experience for the Cup car, and then we got out there in practice and it felt really good and I was having a lot of fun, so I just kept trying to work with the guys and tell them what I needed, and just thanks to Auto Owners, Noble Aerospace, Toyota, TRD, everybody at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) for letting me drive this thing and putting this deal together. That was a blast. I kept thinking, ‘what’s going to happen next, am I going to get a flat tire or something stupid?’ This 51 is pretty much used to finishing in victory lane, so a lot of pressure there, so I’m glad we could get it done.”
What did you learn that you can take to the Cup race this afternoon?
“I learned a lot. It was really amazing just how much the track changed, but I’ll have to say this thing stayed really, really good the whole time. I think if you’ve got a good car, you are going to be good all day long. It just depends on what they do to the track. It’s getting hotter, it’s going to keep drying out and get slicker, so we will see what they do to prep it, but no matter what they do, that was a blast and I’m looking forward to this afternoon.”
Did you expect to win here today?
“You always expect to win when you come to the race track. I’m pleasantly surprised to say the least. We came here this weekend and I wanted to run this truck just to get some experience and try to help with the Cup car. Who would have thought that I would get my first Truck Series victory on dirt. Really happy for the opportunity. Thankful to Auto Owners Insurance, Noble Aerospace and obviously Kyle (Busch, team owner) and everybody at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) for putting this deal together and letting me do this – Toyota, TRD. This was a lot of fun. We weren’t supposed to come here and win. That’s really the icing on the cake. Now I’ve got my truck win that I’ve been thinking about wanting to go after. Really, really cool and still a little bit surprised. What an awesome job these guys did with this truck. Made the right adjustments for today. I told them a few things I wanted to change from practice, he (Marty Lindley, crew chief) changed a few things himself. Marty Lindley (crew chief), he’s an old veteran. He did a heck of a job and that was a lot of fun.”
How did reality differ from your initial expectations of how this race would go?
“I really just had an open mind about it. I thought that any time we go and do something new and different, it’s always fun. Even though I don’t have a lot of experience doing this, I looked at it as, ‘Hey, Bristol hasn’t been a great place for me anyway, let’s put dirt down and see how it goes.’ The little time I’ve spent in dirt vehicles, which is not much at all, I really enjoyed myself. That was one thing I was looking at and thinking. Every time I got on dirt in something, I had a lot of fun. I just approached this weekend as let’s go have some fun, let’s try to figure it out as quickly as we can and that’s why I ran the truck. Clearly, we had a good truck and we figured it out and here we are. Just a blast and thankful for everybody for making it happen.”
What types of things did you learn to apply to this afternoon’s Cup Series race?
“I learned a ton. Obviously, the track changed a huge amount and my wish is that they could put it back to the way we started this race because that’s what really made it fun. You could move around early in the race, especially make moves and we went from 15th to the lead in 15 or 20 laps. You could move around on the race track a little bit more than you could at the end. Hopefully, they’ll do some more work and get it back closer to what it was. By the end of our race, it’s going to be super slick. It’s going to be really black all the way around and guys are going to have their hands full. It’s going to be fun.”
BEN RHODES, No. 99 Bombardier Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
Do you think the missed shift on that last restart cost you an opportunity at going for the win?
“We were running him (Martin Truex Jr.) back down those last few laps, but yeah, just the worst restart of my life. Early in the race, I had an issue of getting it into fourth gear, and missed a shift early on and really didn’t think anything of it. I had clean shifts afterwards, and then just missed it. Bummer for my guys. That is as close as I’ve been at Bristol to winning here and it was on the dirt, so they gave me a great Bombardier Tundra. I’m just a little angry at myself. I think I could have brought them home a trophy, but big picture, I know the 51 (Truex) is kind of doing their thing, but for the overall championship for us, this is a huge race. I know that a few of our competitors had a bad day. At the end of the day, still really solid. We came here and did exactly what we said we wanted to do. We hit all of our goals, just sucks to be the first loser.”
GRANT ENFINGER, No. 98 Champion Power Equipment Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
How was your race as a whole?
“Overall, it was solid. We fired off decent in our Champion Tundra right there when the track was tacky, I made it up to fourth or fifth. Then we faded back a little bit. It seemed like we were a sixth to eighth place truck it felt like, so we decided to go back on adjustments to what we felt like the race track was going to go towards, which is slick off and get dusty. After that, I still felt like we were maybe a sixth to eighth place truck. We decided to stay out there at the end of stage two and see what a little track position did for us. I think it worked out. I don’t think we had anything for Ben (Rhodes) or (Martin) Truex, but I think we could have run with everyone else and just ended up sixth. Not ecstatic, but overall satisfied. I think we made the most of it and now me and Jerod (Prince, crew chief) will talk about it and try to make it better for Knoxville.”
AUSTIN HILL, No. 16 United Rentals Toyota Tundra, Hattori Racing Enterprises
Finishing Position: 9th
How did you feel the race track was today overall?
“The track was pretty good when we first started. I kind of thought that it might be a little muddy, but it turned out that the track was pretty good and ready to go. Our United Rentals Toyota Tundra fired off really well. I was just trying to figure the track out, I’m not a dirt guy so trying to figure it out. Lost some track position on a couple restarts. It seemed like the bottom lane, I could just never get going and it took our truck three or four laps to get going. There at the end, it just came down to that last restart and I got in line. I started finding some lanes that were working for me, but just kind of ran out of time there. I felt like I was faster than the three or four in front of me, but solid points day. Coming into this thing, I wasn’t expecting a top-10 so it’s nice to get a top-10. After as good as we ran, I wanted to win. We’ll go onto the next one and try to do a little better on this dirt stuff.”
Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. and North America for more than 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands. During that time, Toyota has created a tremendous value chain as our teams have contributed to world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 40 million cars and trucks in North America, where we have 14 manufacturing plants, 15 including our joint venture in Alabama (10 in the U.S.), and directly employ more than 47,000 people (over 36,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold nearly 2.8 million cars and trucks (nearly 2.4 million in the U.S.) in 2019.
Through the Start Your Impossible campaign, Toyota highlights the way it partners with community, civic, academic and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We believe that when people are free to move, anything is possible. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com.