LAS VEGAS — Over the past several years, Martin Truex Jr. and his foundation have aided those battling childhood and ovarian cancer by auctioning off race-used, autographed steering wheels to raise awareness and funds.
This weekend at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, Truex will continue that mission in a different way.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions creating struggles for the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation to acquire the steering wheels necessary for the fundraising program, Truex worked with the NASCAR Foundation to devise an alternative plan to raise money.
As a result, they created The Nominate a Cancer Hero Program, which allowed fans the opportunity to nominate a cancer hero to “ride with” their favorite driver during the September race weekend at Las Vegas.
More than 40 drivers, representing all three NASCAR national series, are participating in the program and allowing their driver signature above the left-side window to be replaced with a cancer hero’s name. Several drivers have auctioned off their driver-signature locations to help raise funds toward the fight against childhood and ovarian cancers.
“Really this is a big weekend for our foundation. This year was tough in many ways,” Truex told reporters in advance of the South Point 400 race weekend. “From a fundraising standpoint, we ran into roadblocks with everything that we historically have tried to do. Typically for this month, we would be having our steering wheel campaign, which we have had for the past few seasons and this year, we ran into trouble trying to get steering wheels. They’re made in Italy and with the pandemic, that was an issue.
“But a really a great job was done by everybody at the foundation with trying to come up with a new idea, and thanks to the NASCAR Foundation for working with us to make it happen, as well as all the teams and drivers that have participated. I’m really excited about the names on the cars,” Truex continued. “I think there are so many cancer heroes out there that are just really excited about this program so far and getting to see the names on the cars going around. It’s been a big deal with fundraising for our foundation so far. Really just hats off to everyone involved.
“I’m really fired up to see this go down at Las Vegas this weekend.”
Proceeds from the program will support Martin Truex Jr. Foundation Children’s Emergency Department in Huntersville, N.C., as well as integrative therapies for women and children undergoing cancer treatments and child life services across our racing communities.
“The number of projects we are working on right now and the amount of money we are raising and putting into action is incredible,” Truex added during an interview with NASCAR.com. “I think we’ve seen it time and time again, you know? It doesn’t matter if somebody is up against something or somebody is going through a bad time or trying to raise money to help other people, I feel like as an industry we always get together and help each other any way we can.
“We’ve seen it in the past and as a person who helps run the Foundation, I’m just really thankful for everybody that participates. Not surprised at all, but very thankful as always.”
“We are honored Martin and his foundation have allowed us to participate in this incredible program,” noted Nichole Krieger, executive director of the NASCAR Foundation. “This partnership is a powerful example of how the NASCAR industry can come together to significantly impact the lives of children in need.”
Truex will chase his third Las Vegas victory in the last four years Sunday behind the wheel of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
He’s the defending winner of the Las Vegas playoff race and has five top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 17 starts at the 1.5-mile Sin City track.
Truex is a one-time winner this season in NASCAR Cup Series action and is seeded sixth in the standings among the 12 remaining championship contenders.
Sunday’s South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is slated for a 6 p.m. ET start, with live coverage on NBCSN, the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.