Martin Truex Jr. is also among those NASCAR Cup Series drivers happy to move Westward this week for the opening race of the Round of 12.
The 2017 Cup champion has a markedly different record at Las Vegas Motor Speedway than most other places; however, he is one of only four drivers on the grid with multiple wins at the track. He won in 2017 en route to his first Cup title and is the most recent playoff winner as well – taking the trophy in last year’s September Playoff opener, one of a series-best seven wins in 2019.
He hasn’t finished worse than eighth in five of the last six races at Las Vegas, including the two victories and a third-place finish in the 2018 Fall race.
Truex has proven to be particularly adept at the 1.5-mile venues such as Vegas. Just going back three years, the driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has 10 wins, 22 top-fives and 29 top-10 finishes in 33 races on 1.5-mile tracks – an impressive 87.8 percent top-10 showing on 1.5-milers in that time frame.
“I think overall, as a company, we feel really good about where we ended last season with the 550 (horsepower) package,’’ Truex said of the engine package used at the 1.5-mile venues.
“With us winning Vegas in the fall, Denny (Hamlin) winning Kansas and then Kyle (Busch) at Homestead, all of our cars were really fast at those places at the end of the year, so that gives me a lot of confidence going back to Vegas this weekend.”
Truex has been so fast lately this season and what better way to avoid potential Talladega struggles than to win early and know that he’s going to be in the Round of 8.
Also, this is the first race back at Vegas since February. Then, it was all new for Truex and his team. This was the first non superspeedway race track with new crew chief James Small. How much different is the team now than then?
“I think just more confidence as we’ve went through things,” Truex said on Thursday. Just trying things that didn’t work and then just to circle back to things that we’re doing to what we were just to doing. Definitely confidence is up and not only from the standpoint of me having confidence in what he’s bringing to the race track, but I think he’s more confident when he’s on the box. The split second decisions I think he’s more comfortable and that’s what you get with time. I think things are going really well for us with the exception of Bristol.”