Martin Truex Jr. once again had a subpar performance on Sunday, as he spun out at the end of stage one and finished 17th with no stage points. Strangely enough, 17th was his best finish of the Playoffs, but it still is not nearly to the level we would typically expect from Martin Truex Jr. The question should be asked, how much trouble is Martin Truex Jr. in?
A Look at his Playoff Standing
The Playoff standings are not looking too bad for Martin Truex Jr. right now as he sits with a 19-point advantage over the cut line. He has some breathing room, and a couple of decent runs should solidly get him into the next round. However, what about the Round of 8?
At best, he gets the same gap he got to start the Round of 12 in the Round of 8, but that is unlikely to happen. If the Round of 8 were to begin this weekend, Truex Jr. would only get a 15-point gap over the cut-line to make the Championship 4. Not only that, but the drivers he is fighting to stay above that cut-line are getting better and better as the Playoffs go on.
The Playoff standings and bonus points are Truex Jr.’s saving grace at the moment, but that gap gets tighter and tighter as the Playoffs roll on. Running outside of the top 15 will not cut it.
A Look at the Tracks Coming Up
The tracks coming up for Martin Truex Jr. are not particularly great either. However, they are also tracks that can produce wild card results all the same.
At Talladega, Truex Jr. has nine top-10s and three top-5s in 37 races with zero wins and an average finish of 21.4. Not only that, in his last 15 races at the track, he has finished 20th or worse 12 times with only one top-10 finish. He also has scored stage points in only eight out of 30 stages during that time.
At the Charlotte Roval, the sample size is much smaller at only five races, but the results are also underwhelming. Truex Jr. has an average finish of 14.8 with two top-10s, zero top-5s, and zero wins. He has been better at scoring stage points while scoring stage points in five out of 10 stages. However, he has been solid on road courses this year with a win at Sonoma, top-10s at Indianapolis and Watkins Glen, and a contending car at the Chicago Street Race.
If he loses some points at Talladega due to a wreck, a few stage points and multiple Playoff drivers wrecking out should balance things out somewhat. It is Talladega after all, and there should certainly be more than one Playoff driver that has problems. If he can survive Talladega mostly in one piece, he can at least hope for a solid run at the Roval.
How Much Trouble Is He Really In?
By no means is it time to hit the panic button if you are Martin Truex Jr. or his race team, but there needs to be a major sense of urgency throughout the rest of the Playoffs. The race tracks coming up are not great for him, and he needs to get some good finishes to keep himself in the position he is currently in.
However, he still controls his own destiny. As long as he and his race team find a way to recapture the magic they had during the regular season, he will be just fine. However, the clock is ticking.