Will the Martin Truex, Jr. bubble burst?

One new qualifying winner for the next four Cup Series races will win duel strength Between Martin Truex, Jr. and Ryan Blaney In the last playoff match – unless the winner is Truex or Blaney.

There has been at least one new winner in the last four regular season races every year since 2018.

Truex history

Truex ran his first Cup Series race in 2004 at the age of 24. He scored his first points race win with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. In 2007 in Dover. His second win came seven years later, with Michael Waltrip Racing. then “Spingate His sponsor cost him, and he landed at Furniture Row Racing.

Truex won the championship three years later, only to announce Furniture Row will close After the 2018 season, Truex has been with Joe Gibbs Racing since 2019 and announced in June He will remain with the team for the 2023 season.

This history is to help understand the ups and downs of the Truex career graph. The man literally had to start over again more than once.

Stacked bar chart showing the career history of Martin Truex Jr.

In 607 races, the 42-year-old has 31 wins, 132 in the top five, and 257 in the top ten. This is a 5.1% win rate, 21.7% top five rate and 42.3% top 10 finish rate.

Truex in 2022

The next generation car has challenged everyone, but Toyota the most. With just six cars, Toyota collects a third of the data that Ford and Chevy collect. Limited training time forces teams to do so It relies heavily on simulation. Less data means Toyota takes longer to validate its simulations relative to other manufacturers.

Truex’s overall summary graph reflects this challenge.

Scatter chart (top) and vertical bar chart (bottom) showing Martin Truex Jr.'s rank and finish during the 2022 season through to race 22

This time last year, Truex cemented a place in the playoffs with three wins. He had seven spots in the top five and 11 spots in the top ten. This year, Truex has yet to win and only has three spots in the top five. He didn’t finish better than fourth.

Truex’s biggest achievement is seven stages, more than anyone else in the Trophy Series — and two more than Ryan Blaney. Those seven wins came in just four tracks. He won Stage 1 and Stage 2 in Daytona and Nashville and his second Atlanta race, but finished 22nd, 13th and 11th.

Among Truex’s other strengths:

  • It is the first in terms of the percentage of laps taking place in the first lap at 94.57%.
  • Truex had 6.6% of the fastest laps this year, tying it to third place Ross Chastain. It is a narrow class, however: Kyle Bush And the Chase Elliot Tie for the front, with 7.2% of the fastest laps each.
  • The Truex’s average finish position – 13.63 – ranks fourth among all drivers and first among Toyota teams. Chase Elliott ranks first overall with an average of 10.32 finishing positions. As the chart below shows, Blaney is slightly behind Truex, with an average of 13.72 finishing positions.

Scatter chart comparing average finishes for Toyota drivers with those of Elliott (first place) and Blaney

Truex is fifth in laps and seventh in green flag speed.

Two of Truex’s DNF were due to malfunctions rather than equipment malfunctions. Failing to finish just two races is an achievement in a season with 141 DNFs so far. Last year, there were only 97 DNFs after 22 races. This year’s total is the largest at this point in the season since 2014, when there were 150 DNFs.

Number 19 has had six crashes and one spin, and he’s on the low side this season. NASCAR, however, only records incidents that highlight warnings. A lap 80 crash at the Indy Road track ruined Truex’s ending there, though it didn’t show up in the official totals.

How to beat Blaney

Blaney led Truex by 71 points over New Hampshire, but Truex narrowed the difference to 25 points. Three areas stand out as places where Truex can find performance improvements to win or at least close the score gap.

Truex ranks 15th in the reboot while Blaney comes in at number eight. On tracks where scrolling is difficult, gaining positions on replays can be a huge advantage.

Chevy’s top four drive: Kyle LarsonChase Elliott, Ross Chastain and William Byron. Christopher Bell, in fifth place, is Toyota’s highest-ranked restart. Truex ranks fourth out of four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in this scale.

As you might have guessed given Truex’s endings in the races he won Stage 1 and Stage 2, the shutdown is still a challenge. The law of “close” measures the number of positions a driver wins or loses in the last 10 percent of a race.

After Indy, only four drivers ranked below Blaney in the closing, but one of them is Truex.

Truex has lost 44 places in the last 10 percent of races this year, including 18 in Nashville (where it won both stages) and 13 at Sonoma. just beats Eric Jones (-57 posts), William Byron (-52), Joey Logano (-47) in the ability to close.

Blaney has lost 43 positions, so even small wins can make a meaningful difference in the Truex vs. Blaney competition.

There is some validity to the argument that the law of lock-down depends too much on luck; However, if only luck, the position gains and losses will be evenly distributed. Some drivers seem to be better able to stay out of trouble or overtake them on the right track.

The third area that Truex can improve is qualification. Truex has the lowest average starting position of all JGR drivers. This is especially important considering that Ryan Blaney has the best average qualifying position.

A scatterplot comparing the average Toyota starting drivers with the average Elliott (first-ranked) and Blaney drivers

the future

Truex’s expectations for Michigan are mixed. His average finish is 13.7 over 31 races, which is the 11th best among active drivers. He has a 10 best five and 14 a top 10.

If we consider only recent history, Truex has the top five in four out of Michigan’s last five races, giving it a finishing average of 4.6. In addition, he is 13th in Fontana and 7th in Pocono this year.

But Truex never won in Michigan. In fact, Toyota has only had one win in Michigan in the last 19 races, while Ford has won the last seven.

Ryan Blaney won the most recent race in Michigan.

Worst case scenario for Truex and Blaney winning Kevin Harvick, who will jump both of them in the playoffs and leave one position open. Although Harvick has not won since September 2020, he has won four of the last six races in Michigan.

On the plus side for the two winless drivers, no one has claimed their first win of the season in Michigan since 2016, when Kyle Larson grabbed his first Cup Series win.

The last two races of the regular season are track and super speed. Given Toyota’s struggles on road courses this year, a win at Watkins Glen is a long way off. Truex is second in the number of points earned at superspeedways in 2022; However, much is out of the driver’s control at Daytona. The risk of a crash will be higher than usual given that it will be the last chance for drivers who don’t win to qualify for qualifying.

Truex’s best chance of winning is Richmond, the third-to-last race of the regular season. He finished fourth there in April and his teammate Denny Hamlin win – win. Winning in Richmond would allow Truex to enter the final two races of the season focusing on stage points rather than worrying about whether he would make the playoffs.

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