FORT WORTH -- Martin Truex Jr. recalls the boredom he felt last October while watching TV and the rain in Texas. Then, he was so close to another championship opportunity when the playoff race ended last fall, three days after it started.
This time the forecast is better, both weather-wise, and for Truex’s playoff push. However, things are tightening and there are some changes.
Texas will be the first rounder, with Kansas and Martinsville following. The field will shrink from eight to four for the Phoenix championship race next month.
Truex, 2017 Cup champion who placed second in 2018 and 2019, said that "the round of eight" is as difficult as it gets. All three races are equally important. It doesn't really matter where they are located. The best way to do this is to win the first one. There are many guys who have that mindset.
Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch complete the top five. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, 16 points behind the cutline are the other drivers who are still in the playoffs.
Truex was desperate for a win at Texas last fall. He finished seventh in the standings, but was then forced to start at back of field due to an illegal spoiler. Truex led 53 laps before finishing as runner-up. However, he failed to surpass seventh place in the standings and was removed from title contention the following week.
"The race went very well. Truex stated that we were strong and were only one lap from the finish. Truex added, "I think the 18 (Busch), was running out of gas, and we were closing in on the win." It was close. Although second is a good result, it's not what you want. Try to win it this season, hopefully.
Busch is currently fourth in the standings going to Texas. His only win last season was on Wednesday, after he had been eliminated from defending his 2019 Cup title.