NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr. not locked into playoffs after Dover

Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Dover, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Dover, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Martin Truex Jr. finally ended a 54-race winless streak in Monday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover Motor Speedway.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. earned his 32nd career NASCAR Cup Series victory in Monday afternoon’s Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway.

The driver of the No. 19 Toyota now has four victories at the four-turn, 1.0-mile (1.609-kilometer) high-banked Dover, Delaware oval (2007, 2016, 2019, and 2023), including three in races that were postponed from Sunday to Monday due to rain (2007, 2019, and 2023).

Truex’s win in Monday’s 400-lap race brought an end to a 54-race win drought, which started after he won at Richmond Raceway back in September 2021. He hadn’t had a win drought last this long since he went 69 races between wins from 2013 to 2015.

Despite finishing last year’s regular season in fourth place in the point standings, Truex missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2014 season because of the fact that so many other drivers secured playoff spots by winning. Truex didn’t finish a single race higher than fourth all year.

Coming into Monday afternoon’s race, Truex had not finished higher than third place since he finished runner-up in the 2021 Championship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway.

But Martin Truex Jr.’s win on Monday doesn’t officially lock him into the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs either.

There have now been eight different winners in the season’s first 11 races, meaning that there is still very much a chance that there will be more winners than playoff spots by the time the 26-race regular season ends.

If there are more than 16 regular season race winners (or more than 15, if the regular season champion ends up winless), not all of the single-race winners will qualify for the postseason, since the 16 playoff spots go to the regular season champion and the 15 drivers who rank next highest in wins. The tiebreaker to determine which get in and which don’t would then become points.

All multi-race winners, of which there have been three so far (Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson and Richard Childress Racing’s Kyle Busch), are locked in, since there can be no more than 13 of them before the playoffs begin.

Of course, Truex has very little to worry about, since he sits in fourth place in the point standings, placing him second among the five drivers who have won win so far this year.

Even if there are more than 16 regular season race winners (or more than 15), he should be beyond safe. And of course, if there aren’t, then he has absolutely nothing to worry about.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

Will the 2023 season’s 12th race produce a ninth different winner? The AdventHealth 400 is set to be broadcast live from Kansas Speedway on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, May 7. Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace won at Kansas Speedway last year. Start a free trial of FuboTV now if you have not yet done so!