NASCAR: Why is Martin Truex Jr.’s team eliminated?

Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR playoffs (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Martin Truex Jr. still has a chance to become a two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion this year, even though his team has been eliminated.

Despite having scored no top 15 finishes through the first two round of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, regular season champion Martin Truex Jr. has advanced to the round of 8 for the first time since 2021.

The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota largely made his way through the round of 16 and through the round of 12 due to having posted what was tied for the highest playoff point total during the regular season at 36. His three wins scored him five each, his six stage wins scored him one each, and his regular season title netted him another 15.

But even though Truex himself is set to advance to the round of 8, where he will surely need at least one top 15 finish to make his way back to the Championship 4 for the first time since 2021, his struggles throughout the first six races of the playoffs led to an early elimination for the No. 19 team.

The reason why the No. 19 team is out of owner championship contention while Truex himself is still a title contender goes back to Chase Elliott’s snowboarding injury.

In NASCAR, driver points are tied to drivers, while owner points are tied to the car.

This seems pretty straightforward, but things can get complicated when full-time drivers miss time.

Elliott himself didn’t make the playoffs, largely because of the fact that he missed six races with his fractured left tibia and then another race due to a suspension. But the points his replacements scored in the seven races he missed put the No. 9 team into the owner playoffs in the 16th and final spot.

On the driver side, it was 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace who took the 16th and final spot, meaning that 17 drivers, not just 16, entered the postseason still competing for at least one of the two (driver and owner) titles.

With Elliott’s No. 9 team in the owner playoffs but Wallace, not Elliott, in the driver playoffs, the cut lines for these two different postseasons — even though they use the same format — ended up in two different positions.

In the round of 16, this didn’t matter. The No. 9 team advanced and Wallace advanced, so the four eliminated drivers also saw their teams eliminated from owner title contention.

But in the round of 12, Elliott’s No. 9 team advanced, while Wallace did not. So while Truex found himself as the eighth and final driver above the round of 8 cut line, with Elliott not a factor, the No. 19 team ended up ninth on the owner side as the first team below it, since the No. 9 team finished ahead.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is giving fans an instant $200 just for betting $5 on any title contender, gives Truex the third best odds to win the title among the eight remaining drivers.

With odds and availability subject to change, lock in your $200 now before it’s too late!

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Truex’s pursuit for title number two is scheduled to continue at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a track where he is a two-time winner, this Sunday, October 15. The South Point 400 is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. If you have yet to start a free trial of FuboTV, do so now!