Week 22 GFT NASCAR AI Driver Rankings: MTJ Wins at New Hampshire, Takes over P1

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
5 min readJul 20, 2023

17 July 2023
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

LOUDON, NH — With the race postponed until Monday due to rain, some fans couldn’t stay. But those who did enjoyed a great short track battle amongst the eventual winner Martin Truex Jr, Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson. It was an epic Toyota vs Ford vs Chevy battle in the closing laps.

While it was Joe Gibbs Racing/Toyota teammate C. Bell that won the Pole on Saturday, MTJ owned the track for the Crayon 301. Truex led 254 of the 301 laps in the №19, sweeping both stages on the way to his 4th win of the season (including the exhibition race to start the season- The Clash at the Coliseum). The win also marked the 34th victory of MTJ’s Cup Series career.

Week 21 NASCAR GFT Top 25 AI Driver Rankings following the Crayon 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2023 (Image: GFT Digital / gofullthrottle.net)
LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE — JULY 17: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Crayon 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2023 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE — JULY 17: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota, is presented Loudon the Lobster in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Crayon 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2023 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

With the win, Truex jumps to P1 ahead of William Byron in the GFT NASCAR AI Rankings. Byron finished a disappointing 24th at Loudon, but with 4 points paying wins, including last week’s race at Atlanta, Byron is only a few points behind MTJ. Bubba Wallace’s 8th place and Daniel Suarez 16th place finish saw them swap positions with Wallace moving above the cut line into P15 and Suarez falling out, now at P17.

NASCAR Media Post Race Press Conference

Monday, July 17, 2023 An Interview with: Martin Truex Jr.

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our race winner Martin Truex Jr. Congrats on the win. First win here at one of your many, many home tracks. Can you tell us a little bit about what this means to you and your family?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Sure, yeah. I think it’s no secret that I’ve been after this one for a long time. It’s always been one that I wanted so bad, and maybe I think too bad at times.

But it was well worth the wait to be able to do it here today finally, take home the lobster and put another win at Loudon with the name Truex on it. Very special.

Just an unbelievable day for our team and unbelievable job by everyone on our Reser’s Toyota Camry. The car was super fast again here like we’ve been in the past, but it definitely was fast all day long, not just the first two stages, so that was good.

  1. Martin, is it more of a Monday thing for you this year or is it more of a home track thing for you this year?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Man, I hate to say it, that it’s a Monday thing, but Mondays sure have been good to us. I don’t know, I think we could have won yesterday if it didn’t rain, but you never know.

The racing gods do funny things at times. Just glad we could put it together, honestly. Stage 3 came around and I’m like, all right, what’s going to happen. It all went to plan. We never got — the field never really flipped on strategy. We were always able to be at least equal tires to the guys around us or better. That’s really the difference from last year to this year, was just making the right decisions and the cautions not falling at inopportune times to put us in a bad spot.

James did a great job calling the race, when to take two, when to stay out, all those things, and he called it perfect, and race car was unbelievable.

  1. Obviously three wins for you now this year. Why do you think you and James have really clicked here in 2023?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Just experience with this race car really. I think James and I have always had a great relationship, have always gelled and worked really well together, understand each other. Last year was just one of those years where we had a lot working against us.

But we learned a lot, and now we’ve got better race cars. We have a better understanding of them, and that consistency that we’ve shown and the ability to lead laps and win races is proof of that.

We never changed a thing with our team, our people, our process, the way we did things. We just have better cars, better understanding of our cars, and showing up to the racetrack ready to roll with a lot of speed this year.

  1. You led nearly 85 percent of the laps today, 254 to be exact. I feel like we know that the 2016 Coke 600 is going to be №1, but where does this rank among the best cars you’ve ever driven in a race?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: I don’t know. I mean, it’s so hard to say how that works out. A lot of it depends on who’s around you. At times there was guys that were as fast as we were. Start of stage 3, we were on a little bit older tires.

Blaney was really fast. He put some pressure on running that really high groove, and then I got up there and kind of got that going, figured it out, and then was able to slightly pull away from him. And then at the end Logano was hanging, too.

You just never know in these races. Guys get better all day long. Everybody works on their car. Our car was so good you don’t really know what to do to make it better, and sometimes guys start catching up because you’re afraid to do anything.

That’s bit us here in the past. Today we were able to just make real small adjustments and the track didn’t really change that much but the groove changed a ton. I cannot believe where we were running at the end of that race, like in that old pavement way up high. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done here.

Pretty cool that it kind of moved around and worked out that way and our car, we were able to just run anywhere. Yeah, just a super good race car that was very maneuverable and could run different lanes, was good in traffic. I could pass cars and do what I needed.

I don’t know, I’ve had really good cars in the past at other places, and this place here you get out front, track position is a big deal, and we were able to take advantage of that today.
(More on nascar.com)

The Cup Series’ next race is the HighPoint.com 400, scheduled Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, USA, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway.

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Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association