Martin Truex Jr. takes a streak of three top-10 finishes, including two runner-up performances, into Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
He’s also the defending race champion, having dominated the 2018 race on the 2-mile layout.
“Our team is really looking forward to getting to California this week. It’s one of my favorite tracks, and I felt good about the test back in January,” he said in a statement from Joe Gibbs Racing, the Toyota team for which he drives the No. 19. “Obviously, the weather is going to be different, and there will be more than three cars like at the test, but we feel like we’ve learned a lot about the package since then.”
Truex will start 27th at Fontana after a disappointing qualifying run Friday.
However, Truex, who grew up in the Mayetta section of Stafford Township, has a long history of success at Fontana. Among his six top-10 finishes in 18 Cup starts there are last year’s victory and a fourth-place finish in 2017, the season in which he won the series championship. In those two Fontana races, Truex led a total of 198 laps.
In the first four of 36 races this year, however, Truex has led a total of only four laps. In his Fontana victory last year, he won the pole and both stages of the race.
“I’m excited to see if we can go back-to-back there because it’s really turned into one of the most fun tracks on the circuit.”
Gibbs Racing has done well at Fontana, too. In 81 Cup starts there, its drivers have 34 top-10 finishes, including two victories.
Truex is fifth in the driver standings this year.
After a late-race multicar wreck sent him to a 35th-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500, the 1998 Southern Regional High School graduate has reeled off finishes of second, eighth and second.