Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Like last year, Martin Truex Jr. faces an uncertain future in the NASCAR Cup Series as the 2023 season approaches. Will he be back for another year in 2024?
Martin Truex Jr. is set for his 18th season as a full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup Series and his fifth behind the wheel of the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2023.
Last year at this time, Truex’s plans past the conclusion of the 2022 season hadn’t been confirmed. He did not have a contract to continue competing for Joe Gibbs Racing, and retirement was seen as a legitimate possibility.
But just as the summer began, Truex announced that he would be returning to Joe Gibbs Racing for another year in 2023.
The decision came as a surprise to some, as Truex had come across as very uncertain in the weeks and months leading up to the announcement and even seemingly hinted that the 2022 season could be his last.
Of course, one of the first things Truex was asked when he determined that he would indeed be back for another year behind the wheel of the No. 19 Toyota in 2023 was whether or not he would be back in 2024 as well.
The 42-year-old Mayetta, New Jersey native noted that it had just taken him six months to decide on what his plans were for 2023 and he wasn’t going to look that far ahead.
Now here we are, just about a month away from the start of the 2023 season, and Truex is in a similar position. Will it be his last?
Truex has stated, on several occasions, that he doesn’t compete because he feels he has to, but because he enjoys it and feels that he is still competitive. Could his decision depend on how his 2023 season goes?
The 2022 season was the first season for the Gen 7 car, and Truex simply didn’t achieve the results he was used to. He didn’t finish a single race inside the top three, ending a seven-year win streak, and failed to qualify for the playoffs, also ending a seven-year streak of postseason appearances.
While there were a number of issues out of his control which contributed to his disappointing season, the season was still by far his worst since 2014.
This downturn in performance came after a six-year stretch which saw Truex win at least four races on five occasions, and on four of those five occasions, he made it to the Championship 4, even winning the 2017 title along the way.
Could Truex simply need a change of scenery like the Richard Childress Racing-bound Kyle Busch? Could the 2023 season be his last with Joe Gibbs Racing, but not necessarily in the Cup Series?
Last summer, amid rumors of JR Motorsports joining the Cup Series, there was some speculation that Truex could be a contender to join the organization, should they finally make the jump to the Cup Series in 2024.
After all, it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his Chance 2 Motorsports team which gave Truex his start as a full-time NASCAR driver in the 2004 Busch Series season. Could Truex sort of “repay” the favor and get Earnhardt his start as a Cup Series team owner by becoming his first driver?
Worth mentioning is the fact that Truex’s decision last year came on June 24. While that date was not exactly close to the start of the season, it left Joe Gibbs Racing and team partners with more than enough time to know exactly how to proceed. Look for a decision regarding the 2024 season to come around that time again this year, if not before.