Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) announced today that 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. will pilot the No. 51 Tundra March 27 in the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Truex’s Tundra will carry primary sponsorship from Auto-Owners Insurance, one of the nation’s largest insurers. Noble Aerospace, one of the largest and most capable aerospace metal finishing business in the United States, will serve as a major associate sponsor.
Truex Jr., Busch’s Cup Series teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, will make a start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the first time since 2006 when he got behind the wheel of the No. 51 for Billy Ballew Motorsports at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The New Jersey native has just two career starts in NASCAR’s third division, with a best result of 19th at the Milwaukee (Wisc.) Mile in 2005.
The Toyota Racing driver has 28 career Cup Series victories, including the series-best eight he collected en route to the championship in 2017. Truex Jr. is a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion (2004 and 2005) and has earned 13 career wins in that series. He has one win on the pavement at Bristol, which came in the XFINITY Series race in 2004.
Truex will be looking to join an exclusive club of just 35 drivers that have won at least one race in all three of NASCAR’s National Series. Christopher Bell, who won his first Camping World Truck Series race for KBM in 2015, became the most recent member of the club after winning the NASCAR Cup Series race at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Road Course earlier this year.
Erik Jones (2013) and William Byron (2016), like Bell, earned their first career Truck Series victory at KBM on their way up the ladder, winning in order of progression through each series. Denny Hamlin won his first XFINITY Series race in March of 2006 and then won his first Cup Series race later that year. It was not until 2011 that Hamlin won his first Truck Series while racing driving for KBM. Busch is also a member of the club, but he earned his first Truck Series victory driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports in 2005, five years before the debut of KBM.
“This is something Kyle (Busch) and I have talked about over the last few years and I’m excited that we were finally able to make it happen,” Truex Jr. said. “I’m really thankful for Auto-Owners Insurance coming on board for what is going to be a big weekend for our sport racing on dirt at Bristol for the first time. Also, I want to thank Noble Aerospace and Cessna for their support.”
“We’re excited to have Martin behind the wheel of the No. 51 Auto-Owners Insurance Tundra for the inaugural Bristol Dirt weekend and provide him with the opportunity to join the list of drivers who have been able to win in all three NASCAR National Series,” Busch said. “It’s pretty cool to say that four of the 35 drivers in that exclusive club earned their first Camping World Truck Series victory driving for KBM, and we’re going to do everything we can to help Martin become the fifth.”
“We know that Martin has wanted to compete in another truck series race for almost 15 years and we are thrilled to support him in this opportunity,” said Auto-Owners Insurance Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales Mary Pierce.
The Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Cup Series will take part in the inaugural NASCAR dirt-track race weekend at Bristol. The event will feature unique rules include four 15-lap heat races, with a lineup set by a random draw. where drivers will earn points for positions gained during their heat to calculate the starting lineup for the feature. During the Bristol dirt race tire changes, vehicle work and fueling can only be conducted during the two stage breaks, with the exception being trucks that are involved in incidents.
KBM has earned two of its series-leading 81 career wins on dirt. Darrell Wallace Jr. won at Eldora Speedway, a ½-mile dirt oval in 2014 and Bell made it back-to-back victories for the organization at the famed track in 2015.