Martin Truex Jr. (19) leads the field through Turn 4 on a restart during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Avondale, Ariz.
Martin Truex Jr. (19) leads the field through Turn 4 on a restart during the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Avondale, Ariz.|Ralph Freso | Associated Press
NASCAR

The early question on the NASCAR circuit is what’s wrong with Martin Truex Jr.? Eckel previews Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Mark Eckel

Martin Truex Jr., the New Jersey native and 2017 Series Cup winner and Final Four qualifier last season, is off to a poor start to the 2020 season.

Through the first four races Truex has yet to finish in the top 10 and failed to even finish two races at Daytona and at Phoenix. Twice this season he’s had to start the race at the back after inspection issues.

The frustration has shown on the driver, who hopes to get back on the right track Sunday in Atlanta where he finished second a year ago and third in 2018. He’s had separate issues this season with fellow drivers Eric Jones and Denny Hamlin. And was also heard on the radio exchanging terse words with his new crew chief James Small. Things seemed to have worked out with all three.

“I think everybody gets aggravated from time to time and we all lose our cool,” Truex told NASCAR.com before last week’s race in Phoenix. “I’d say I’m probably one of the most low key and even-keeled guys on the racetrack and I guess that’s maybe why when I lose my mind and flip out and get mad and have a bad day — we all have bad days — I get scrutinized for it I would say more than most.

“There are other guys that sound like that every weekend but you never hear about it. It’s one of those things. I feel stupid after a race like that when I lose my marbles and just get mad and aggravated and let the competition get under my skin.”

The best cure, of course, would be a win Sunday in Atlanta.

17 for 5: After four races 17 different drivers have finished in he top five. All of last season only 26 different drivers finished in the top 5. Only three drivers, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano (2 wins) and Kyle Busch have two top fives. Harvick is the only driver to finish in the top 10 all four races.

Early Odds: Kevin Harvick 9-2, Kyle Busch 13-2, Joey Logano 13-2, Brad Keselowski 7-1, Chase Elliott 8-1, Martin Truex Jr. 10-1, Alex Bowman 11-1, Ryan Blaney 12-1, Denny Hamlin 12-1, Kyle Larson 14-1.

Weekend Schedule: Friday: First practice, 3:35; Final practice 5:35. Saturday: Qualifying: 12:05. Both days can be seen live on Fox Sports 1. Sunday: Race 2 p.m. on Fox.

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