Martin Truex Jr. Sneakily Snubs Joe Gibbs’ Pride With Bold Championship Claim That William Byron Also Endorses

Published 09/29/2023, 5:43 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

When you sift through the chatter, beyond Denny Hamlin, two names that keep popping up like toast are another Joe Gibbs star Martin Truex Jr., and the Hendrick Motorsports’ shining star, William Byron. Truex Jr. has been the buzz of the town, albeit for reasons the No. 19 might not be too proud of—his playoff performances. And it would be like missing the forest for the trees if, after a playoff win, we overlooked the prowess of #24.

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But now, the drivers from the stables of Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs have come into the spotlight themselves by stirring the pot, crafting a fresh theory poised to seize the spotlight in countless podcasts and NASCAR discussions. The hot topic on the horizon? None other than the Championship-4, and predicting the 2023 Champ where Martin Truex Jr. left his star teammate behind his Connect 4 mate and himself.

Martin Truex Jr. drops his top-4 in a ping-pong ball game session

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Just a week ago, after the Texas Motor Speedway race, Martin Truex Jr. exuded nothing but frustration and disappointment. The root of his vexation? Persistent car, tire, and speed issues, keeping victory tantalizingly out of reach. Contrastingly, Rick Hendrick‘s ace, William Byron, basked in the glory of a Texas triumph, marking a victorious return after a lengthy pause post-Atlanta in the regular season.

Despite these diverging paths, during a lively game of Connect 4, amidst a flurry of questions, Truex didn’t miss a beat when tasked with forecasting Championship 4 of 2023. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver promptly declared, “Me, you (William Byron), Denny, and Larson. The unexpected choice was met with Byron’s immediate assent: “I agree”, adding fuel to the anticipatory blaze without a hint of diminishing the burgeoning excitement.

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However, a question hangs in the air: why the omission of JGR driver Christopher Bell, who has, at the very least, outperformed Martin Truex Jr. in the playoffs? His stellar regular season and commendable consistency in the four playoff races, with three top-10 finishes and two top-5 placements at Bristol and Texas, make his exclusion a puzzling one.

Watch This Story: Martin Truex Jr Expresses Frustration Over Teams Performance

While Byron’s presence in the esteemed top 4 doesn’t ring any alarm bells, Truex’s assertion does cause a ripple of surprise. Given his recent on-track tribulations and an upcoming race on a circuit not exactly his ally, does his top-4 prediction mirror genuine confidence, or does it tiptoe into the territory of overconfidence? Is Truex, in his audacious forecast, overshadowing Christopher Bell?

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Victory for No. 19 at Talladega, a distant dream or a close reality?

Sporting three wins and an extra 25 playoff points under his belt, Martin Truex Jr. began the playoffs riding high. Yet, as the races unfolded, each result seemed to chip away at his once rock-solid confidence. From the pinnacle of the 2017 Championship, the Joe Gibbs Racing team has witnessed Truex Jr.’s descent, casting him into the role of a cautionary tale. From a blazing season start, dark clouds loom as Truex Jr. teeters precariously on the playoff precipice.

The NASCAR faithful can hardly believe their eyes, as the once-championship favorite has been eerily absent from the Top 15 in the recent quartet of races. And with his bold top-4 predictions now echoing in the air, all eyes are on what Talladega might unfold for him. Talladega’s track hasn’t been his friend, to say the least. Bar the single shimmer of hope in April 2022, where he finished P5, the last 15 races have seen him missing even the top 10, let alone clinching a victory.

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Can Rick Hendrick’s Dejected Superstar Pull Off on MTJ in the Face of the Biggest Playoff Roadblock?

While self-belief can move mountains, both Truex Jr. and the entire JGR team will need to tighten the screws, particularly concerning pit stops and tire strategy, if they hope to restore their golden boy to the top-4 echelons.

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Written by:

Neha Dwivedi

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Neha Dwivedi is a NASCAR Writer for EssentiallySports. Her ability to capture the spirit of the exhilarating races and relay the enthusiasm to her readers distinguishes her as a sports journalist. Neha's articles strike a nice balance between technical accuracy and story-telling.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta

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