Why it’s absurd to think NASCAR drivers would let a teammate win, according to Martin Truex Jr. – For The Win
There are multiple ways to interpret the idea of NASCAR being a team sport. There is an individual car’s team – including the driver, crew chief, pit crew and so on – but there’s also the larger racing team, which serves as an umbrella over all the cars the company may field.
Members of the individual car’s team, say Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Toyota crew, will do anything to ensure they finish first. But even though Truex’s Furniture Row Racing teammate is rookie Erik Jones in the No. 77 Toyota, there is a limit to how much they’ll work together.
Truex is dominating this season in every sense. With a series-best four wins, he locked himself into the 16-driver playoffs with his first season victory back in the third race of the season. He’s also at the top of the driver standings, and his 35 playoff points largely overshadow Kyle Larson’s second-best 18.
But if a situation arose where he and Jones were both fighting for a win – which the rookie still needs to make the playoffs – Truex made it clear that he would never let anyone win, teammate or not.
Five playoff points are on the line, and that’s all that matters.
When asked if he ever considered letting Jones win at his home track at the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday, Truex said:
“We don’t have team orders. Nobody lets each other win. He’s going to win some races. His turn will come. …
“That’s not how we race. Nobody out there races that way. Nobody is going to give a Cup win up. They’re too hard to get.”
Truex and Jones ultimately finished second and third, respectively, to Larson, thanks to an incredible restart effort.
Truex certainly is not the only driver with that mentality. The Coke Zero 400 was likely Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last race at Daytona International Speedway, but prior to the race, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott said he’d have no problem passing NASCAR’s most popular driver if it meant he could win.
With five playoff points for a victory and one with a stage win, it doesn’t matter how far ahead of the field Truex is. Until he wins a championship, he’s never going to have enough playoff points to be satisfied.