After fifteen years, Martin Truex Jr. is heading back to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. On Sunday, shortly after winning the Cup Series‘ Instacart 500, he confirmed in a press conference that he will run the Truck Series’ Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race on 27 March. He will drive the #51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, a team owned by his Cup team-mate of the same name.
Truex’s return to the series was initially revealed by mistake. In February, Cup sponsor Auto-Owners Insurance posted a schedule of races in which they will appear on his #19 Joe Gibbs Racing car beginning with the Cup Series’ Bristol dirt race. However, the Instagram post also inadvertently included the previous day’s Truck race at the track, and it was subsequently deleted before being reposted without the Truck date.
Although KBM and Truex remained mum, the rumour eventually got out. During his post-race media conference after winning at Phoenix, Truex was asked about the Truck start and remarked, “Damn, they spilled the beans? Okay, yeah, we are. We’re going to run the Truck race.
“I’ll run Kyle’s truck. He said I could drive it for free, so I did it.”
Truex only has two Truck starts to his name, running one race apiece in 2005 and 2006 for Billy Ballew Motorsports. After finishing nineteenth in the 2005 race at the Milwaukee Mile, he crashed out of the 2006 Michigan event and was classified in thirty-fourth. Coincidentally, the latter start also came in a #51 truck, and Busch drove for Billy Ballew Motorsports prior to starting KBM.
While he does not have much experience on dirt, the Truck entry will provide additional preparation ahead of the Cup race the following day. He is not the only Cup driver with plans to run the Truck event as Kevin Harvick and Chase Briscoe have announced their intentions to do the same. Truex’s participation will also allow him to compete against younger brother Ryan, who races full-time in the Truck Series; the brothers last ran a points event together with the Cup Series’ 2014 race at Chicagoland.
The Truck one-off will not be his only return to NASCAR’s lower series after a long absence. Next Saturday, he will enter the Xfinity Series race at Atlanta for JGR, marking his first race in the division since 2010; he is a two-time Xfinity champion with titles in 2004 and 2005.
KBM’s #51 serves as the team’s multi-driver truck. Drew Dollar made his series début in the season opener at Daytona, while Parker Chase ran the Daytona road course event in his own maiden Truck start and Busch finished second at Las Vegas behind KBM driver John Hunter Nemechek. The team has not officially announced Truex’s entry.