Martin Truex Jr. is treating the 2018 All-Star Race differently than ever before. That is because the race has never had fewer long-term implications, which frees the driver to race as hard as possible and take any gambles necessary to win the $1 million prize.
Truex qualifies for the exhibition race on three different criteria: by winning races in 2017 (eight of them), earlier this year (at Auto Club Speedway), and as the defending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points champion.
He will make his eighth career appearance and third consecutive start Saturday night.
A new rules package – which includes restrictor plates – will be tested in the event and will not be used when the Cup series returns for the Coca-Cola 600. That means any lessons learned will not be applicable until this set of rules is used again in the future – if that even happens.
“Since this year’s All-Star Race won’t offer much help for the Coca-Cola 600 due to the rules package, the only goal is to win it,” said Truex in a press release. “It’s an all or nothing race. It’s not about points, it’s not about anything else. It’s just about going for the million bucks.”
In this week’s Bump & Run, one of the topics of conversation centered on what to look for in the All-Star Race. Truex has added his own take on what fans should be watching – flat out competition in a race with no penalty for stepping over the line.
For Truex, that opens up an opportunity he has not had in recent years. Truex has struggled recently in the exhibition race with a 12th-place finish last year and a 14th in 2016. He has never won but came close in 2010. He advanced to the All-Star Race as the winner of the Sprint Showdown before finishing second to Kurt Busch in the main event.
“We really haven’t been too good in that race the past couple of years,” Truex said. “Hopefully, this time it will be different in our 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry. A lot of different rules and new things to figure out. It should be an interesting and fun weekend.”
Whether Truex comes out victorious Saturday night, he will have a big day ahead of him on Monday.
Truex and members of Furniture Row Racing will travel to Washington, D.C., for an afternoon visit to the White House. There they will be honored by President Donald Trump for his 2017 series championship.
The ceremony will be held on the South Lawn of the White House at 2 p.m. ET.