Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: Overtime Has Not Been Kind to Martin Truex Jr.

For Martin Truex Jr., the No. 19 team and all of Truex’s fans, Easter Sunday’s (March 31) Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway was the gut punch of all gut punches.

Truex led 228 laps and had the race won in the closing laps, as second-place Joey Logano was too far behind to make a move with just under three laps to go. The entire final stage had run green from start to finish, and all Truex had to do was reach the white flag to put it away.

But in a cruel twist of fate, after 159 laps of green-flag racing, the yellow flag was displayed with two laps to go for Kyle Larson‘s spin — just a half lap short of Truex ending the race.

What followed?

A slow pit stop put Denny Hamlin in control of the race, a controversial final restart where Hamlin appeared to hit the gas before the restart line, contact between the Nos. 11 and 19 cars that sent Hamlin to the front for the final lap, and a door slam that Truex gave to Larson on the backstretch while racing for third on the final lap.

The post-race turned into a kerfuffle, as Larson and Truex walled each other across the finish line. And as Hamlin was running his cool-down lap, Truex proceeded to give the No. 11 car an unfriendly slam in the rear.

See also
Thinkin’ Out Loud: Martin Truex Jr. Has a Rare Meltdown at Richmond

I can’t blame Truex for being mad about how the finish went down, even if he went overboard in playing bumper cars at the end.

But it shows how brutal of a loss it was since it’s been six years since he last showed fireworks on the cooldown lap — that last time was at the inaugural race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL in 2018, where Truex spun Jimmie Johnson on the cooldown lap after Johnson spun into Truex on the last lap, who was one turn away from winning the race.

It’s not a secret that Truex and overtime haven’t been the best of friends. Of Truex’s 34 NASCAR Cup Series wins, only three were won in overtime.

Three-for-34 may not seem like that bad of a clip, but of all the Cup races that have reached the scheduled distance since overtime was implemented in the middle of 2004, 22.2% (153 out of 688) have ended in overtime.

That 22.2% would mathematically give Truex between seven or eight overtime wins in his career, so having only three is a bit of an outlier. That outlier becomes more apparent when looking at Truex’s peers and how many races they’ve won in the overtime era:

DriverOvertime WinsTotal Wins%
Jimmie Johnson177423.0
Kyle Busch156323.8
Kevin Harvick105617.9
Denny Hamlin125322.6
Brad Keselowski93525.7
Martin Truex Jr.3348.8
Joey Logano113234.4
Carl Edwards42814.3
Kurt Busch62524.0
Kyle Larson42416.7

Some drivers are above the average and some drivers are below it, but Truex is well below it.

But the above chart can’t be taken at face value. Sure, Truex has a smaller percentage of overtime wins than his contemporaries, but how many overtime races was Truex actually in a position to win?

There are a few ways to tackle this problem, but the easiest way is to look at all the overtime races that Truex would have won, had they ended under caution at the scheduled distance.

See also
Martin Truex Jr. Angry After Dominant Richmond Run Comes Up Short

In Truex’s case, there are six races in his career where he had the win in sight until a caution forced an overtime restart. Of those six, Truex only went on to win two of them.

Year/RaceTrackGreen-Flag Run Before OTControl of Final Restart?Finish
2012-25Atlanta41 lapsNo5th
2017-18Kentucky100 lapsYes1st
2017-23Michigan5 lapsYes2nd
2017-26Richmond135 lapsNo20th (Crash)
2017-30Charlotte2 lapsYes1st
2024-7Richmond159 lapsNo4th

Truex having just a 33.3% chance of converting an overtime restart into a win is not good, but how much of that falls squarely on him?

Not as much as you’d think.

Of the two overtime finishes that Truex won, he controlled the final restart. There’s only one race where Truex lost after having control of the final restart, and his other three losses (including this Sunday) were instances where either a slow pit stop or bad strategy cost him the lead and control of the final restart. It’s significantly harder to win a two-lap shootout from second on back, especially when the leader may have gassed it up before he was supposed to.

On the flip side, there is one race where Truex wasn’t leading at the start of overtime where he went on to win.

That came at Chicagoland Speedway in 2016, where Chase Elliott had his first Cup win in hand until a late caution. Differing pit strategies put Ryan Blaney in the lead, and it was Truex who set sail on the final two laps en route to the victory.

Truex has won a single race in overtime that he wouldn’t have won in regulation, and he’s lost four races in overtime that he would have won in regulation. That puts Truex’s overtime record at -3 wins, which means that if all those races ended at the scheduled distance, Truex would have 37 Cup wins instead of the 34 that he has at the present day.

Whether it was getting passed, losing the lead on pit road or dumb luck that prevented him from winning, Truex has far more negative experiences with overtime finishes than positives.

All of which makes sense when considering that Truex’s modus operandi consists of predominantly winning races where he dominates, which more often than not coincides with races that end with long green-flag runs.

Of Truex’s 34 wins, 23 had a margin of victory (MOV) that was greater than one second. Fifteen of his wins have come with a MOV greater than two seconds, and Truex has won seven races by a margin greater than seven seconds.

There have only been 27 Cup races since the start of 2006 to have a MOV greater than seven seconds, so for Truex to have been the winner in 25.9% (7/27) of them is nothing short of absurd.

It’s clear that he thrives in races that have those long runs to the finish, and he was just 15 seconds away from wrapping up a 160-lap run to the finish and putting another win in the trophy case.

But races are won and lost as a team, and whether it was getting passed, getting wrecked or losing the lead on pit road, Truex has found himself on the short end of the stick more often than not when races have a finish like Sunday.

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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