Martin Truex Jr. won’t enter Sunday’s race as the favorite to bring home the championship hardware, but the Joe Gibbs Racing driver must not be overlooked. Although it seems like it was years ago, as opposed to just March, Truex won the most recent NASCAR Cup Series event held at Phoenix Raceway. In that race, Truex’s No. 19 Toyota led 64 of 312 laps and took the checkered flag 1.7 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Joey Logano. A repeat performance and season sweep by Truex in the Valley of the Sun on Sunday afternoon will give the veteran driver his second championship at NASCAR’s highest level.
“We know what it takes, and we have what it takes to be able to get the job done at Phoenix,” Truex said. “It’s an honor and pleasure to get to race for championships. Only four of us get to do it. It’s a fun week.” Although Truex gleans some positivity from knowing he won at Phoenix the last time the Cup Series convened at the 1-mile track, he’s not taking anything for granted this weekend. After all, prior to his win at Phoenix in the spring, Truex had been winless in 30 starts here.
“I’ll be honest with you: If we would have gone to Phoenix last year in the Final Four, I would have been not very confident,” Truex said. “Last year, we struggled here for some reason. It’s never been our greatest track; I’ll say that. It’s always been just OK. I’ve never come to Phoenix with a really warm, fuzzy feeling that we’re going to win, we’re going to be really, really strong and lead laps.”