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Martin Truex, Jr. #51 Auto Owners Toyota for the Bristol dirt Truck race. Image KBM

Martin Truex, Jr to run Truck Series Bristol dirt race: UPDATE

Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) announced today that 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. will pilot the No. 51 Tundra March 27 in the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Truex’s Tundra will carry primary sponsorship from Auto-Owners Insurance, one of the nation’s largest insurers. Noble Aerospace, one of the largest and most capable aerospace metal finishing business in the United States, will serve as a major associate sponsor.

Truex Jr., Busch’s Cup Series teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, will make a start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the first time since 2006 when he got behind the wheel of the No. 51 for Billy Ballew Motorsports at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The New Jersey native has just two career starts in NASCAR’s third division, with a best result of 19th at the Milwaukee (Wisc.) Mile in 2005.

The Toyota Racing driver has 28 career Cup Series victories, including the series-best eight he collected en route to the championship in 2017. Truex Jr. is a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion (2004 and 2005) and has earned 13 career wins in that series. He has one win on the pavement at Bristol, which came in the XFINITY Series race in 2004.

Truex will be looking to join an exclusive club of just 35 drivers that have won at least one race in all three of NASCAR’s National Series. Christopher Bell, who won his first Camping World Truck Series race for KBM in 2015, became the most recent member of the club after winning the NASCAR Cup Series race at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Road Course earlier this year.

Erik Jones (2013) and William Byron (2016), like Bell, earned their first career Truck Series victory at KBM on their way up the ladder, winning in order of progression through each series. Denny Hamlin won his first XFINITY Series race in March of 2006 and then won his first Cup Series race later that year. It was not until 2011 that Hamlin won his first Truck Series while racing driving for KBM. Busch is also a member of the club, but he earned his first Truck Series victory driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports in 2005, five years before the debut of KBM.

— Kyle Busch Motorsports —

Original post: Following his Cup Series win at Phoenix on Sunday, Martin Truex, Jr. confirmed he will drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports Pinty’s Dirt Truck Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 27.

Martin, are you going to be doing any dirt racing in advance of the Cup Series race at Bristol?

Truex: Probably. I’m not sure where yet, though, or how, but probably (smiling). Stay tuned.

Martin, it was said you were going to run the truck race at Bristol.

Truex: Damn, they spilled the beans (laughter)? Okay, yeah, we are. We’re going to run the truck race.

Obviously with Kyle Busch Motorsports?

Truex: Yes, I’ll run Kyle’s truck. He said I could drive it for free, so I did it (laughter).

When is the last time you raced on dirt? Are you looking forward to it? Are you nervous, scared?

Truex: I’m excited. I’m excited about it. I’ve only raced twice on dirt. Both of them were at Schrader’s, having a charity race out in Missouri, did that a few times in a modified. I grown up on four-wheelers and motorcycles. It’s going to be a learning curve for sure.

I look at it as Bristol has been our worst track for the past couple years. Why the heck not lay down dirt and see what we can do? I think it’s going to be fun. New challenge, something different.

— NASCAR  Transcript —