LEBANON, Tennessee — It took Martin Truex Jr. just seven words to end season-long speculation about his NASCAR future.
“I’ll be 19 again next year,” Truex said at Nashville Superspeedway, before his statement, released by Joe Gibbs Racing, was even more succinct: “I’ll be back.”
Beautiful and succinct for the 2017 NASCAR Champion, who was never verbose but was particularly short on detail as he pondered his future over the past few months. His contract with Joe Gibbs Racing expires at the end of the year and the best Truex would reveal was that the organization needed a driver’s decision this summer.
“My competitive side said I’m not done and I’ll keep fighting, so here we are,” said Truex, who turns 42 on Wednesday.
Next year will be his 18th season in the Cup Series, and the New Jersey native has 31 career wins and two Xfinity Series titles. He starts the season without a win in Nashville on Sunday, but is sixth overall.
Now that Truex is signed, JGR can turn his full attention to two-time champion Kyle Busch. He’s also on a contract year, but JGR needs a sponsor for the No. 18 because longtime partner Mars, Inc. is leaving NASCAR after this season.
With the return of Truex, JGR retains a perennial title contender. He reached the title-winning NASCAR championship race in four of the last five seasons and won his only title in 2017 when he drove for the now-defunct Furniture Row Racing. Since then he has finished second in the championship three times, including last year when he lost to Kyle Larson.
Truex has won 16 races since joining JGR.
“We are delighted to have our 2017 Cup Champion, partner and friend back in his Camry TRD for at least another year,” said David Wilson, President of Toyota Racing Development.
It was unclear what Truex might decide based on his struggles in the new next-gen stock car but also JGR’s struggles. The four JGR riders – Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Truex – have three wins combined. Bell and Truex have yet to reach Victory Lane.
“I think as we all continue to learn and grow, the good teams everywhere will be the good teams,” Busch said. “But you know, it’s kind of sketchy right now just to get an understanding of this car.”
The performance battle had disrupted Truex, who had seven top 10 finishes in 16 races.
“I don’t like it when I don’t run well,” Truex said. “I’m here to win. I feel like everyone is working very, very hard at the moment. It’s an up and down sport. I was doing a lot worse than here before. We’re in a good place in points …but I feel like we’re getting closer and we’ll continue to do whatever we can.
https://www.espn.com/racing/nascar/story/_/id/34147487/martin-truex-jr-tells-joe-gibbs-racing-return-2023-season Martin Truex Jr. tells Joe Gibbs Racing he will return for 2023 season