Winless Record Headlines Surprises From NASCAR Season

Getty Martin Truex Jr. waves to fans at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

There were many surprising moments during the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. Martin Truex Jr. going winless during the first year of the Next Gen era tops the list.

The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry TRD entered the 2023 season as one of the favorites to win the championship, and for good reason. He finished second in the standings in 2021 after winning four races and posting top-10 finishes in 20 total events.

The 2021 season marked the fourth time in the past five years that Truex had finished top two in the championship standings, which only created expectations that he would be in contention once again in 2022. However, the season did not play out as many expected.

Truex’s 2022 campaign only featured 15 top-10 finishes and four top-fives as he finished 17th in the standings. These were his lowest numbers since the 2014 season, the last time that he went winless.


There Were Multiple ‘Near-Misses’ for Truex

Martin Truex Jr.

GettyMartin Truex Jr. prepares for qualifying at Kansas Speedway.

There were multiple reasons for Truex going winless during the 2022 season. For example, the Toyota teams struggled to contend during the majority of road course races.

Truex also had a variety of near misses during the season. One of the most prominent examples was the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. He had one of the best cars during the race, and he secured top-five finishes in the first two stages.

The situation changed during the final run to the checkered flag. Truex was in contention to fight for the win with just over 30 laps remaining when a massive wreck unfolded.

Truex was pinched between Kevin Harvick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. when the field went three-wide. Contact from the No. 47 sent Truex spinning to the inside as Cole Custer hit him from behind.

This spin kicked off a sizable wreck that collected nine total drivers, including Kurt Busch, Bubba Wallace, and Chase Elliott. This incident ended Truex’s day and relegated him to a 24th-place finish.

Another missed opportunity was the playoff opener, which also took place at Darlington Raceway. Once again, Truex had a strong car, and he used it to lead 48 laps and finish the first two stages inside of the top 10.

Truex was in the lead during the final stage when he had to suddenly head to the garage. A water pump issue ended his day early and took away his best opportunity to snap the winless streak.

The two races at Darlington were just examples of the unexpected issues that Truex encountered in 2022. A power steering issue ended his day early at Bristol Motor Speedway, he crashed from the lead at Texas Motor Speedway after a blown tire, and then contact from Kyle Larson sent him spinning on pit road at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This particular incident knocked him out of contention for the win.


Truex Will Have More Opportunities in 2023

The 2022 season was far from what Truex wanted, but now he will have more opportunities to snap his winless streak. He will be back in the No. 19 for 2023 after signing an extension with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Will Truex return to Victory Lane for the first time since September 11, 2021? The answer remains unknown, but there will be some factors in play that will potentially help him achieve this goal.

There will be no doubt that the Toyota entries will be strong once again in 2023, especially after they were among the best at intermediate tracks in 2022. Additionally, the number of data gathered during the first season of the Next Gen era should help JGR contend at road courses once again.

One other storyline that could potentially benefit Truex is NASCAR’s focus on the short tracks. There will be some potential changes made to the Next Gen cars during the offseason that should make it easier for drivers to pass each other at Martinsville Speedway, Richmond Raceway, and Bristol Motor Speedway.

 

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