NASCAR: Martin Truex Jr.’s comments got a lot more interesting

Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Martin Truex Jr.’s comments on an uncertain future in NASCAR have been made far more interesting by the success of Ty Gibbs in the Xfinity Series.

When Martin Truex Jr. signed a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing ahead of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season to continue driving the #19 Toyota through at least the 2022 season, the exact terms of his contract were not publicly revealed.

But the 41-year-old Mayetta, New Jersey native has not signed anything since then, so he has not been formally confirmed by the team for the 2023 season.

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As a result, there has been a considerable amount of speculation on his future in the Cup Series, and he recently addressed the uncertainty, stating that a decision should be coming “pretty soon”.

"“Pretty soon because I’m pretty sure I’m going to start getting pressure from the team. They obviously have a lot — they have to plan. So there always comes a deadline. I don’t know when that is but I’ll have to have this conversation I’m sure pretty soon here.”"

What has made these comments about an uncertain future even more interesting is the success that Ty Gibbs has had in the Xfinity Series.

Ty Gibbs, the grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs, made his series debut last year and competed in 18 races on the schedule.

While the team’s three full-time drivers combined to earn just one win throughout the 33-race season, Gibbs won four times, including in his series debut at the Daytona International Speedway road course.

As a part-time driver, he was not eligible to qualify for the playoffs, so he finished the season as the highest ranking non-playoff driver in 13th place in the championship standings. Had he been playoff eligible, it goes without saying that he would have been a serious title contender.

Notably, he pulled all of this off while running full-time in the ARCA Menards Series, where he won the title with 10 wins in 20 races.

As expected, Gibbs was promoted to full-time Xfinity Series driver with his grandfather’s team this year. And in the season’s first seven races, he has found victory lane three times, giving him seven wins in 25 career starts.

While he has faced criticism from other drivers after a few notable run-ins already in 2022, he has done more than justify the decision to promote him to a full-time role, most recently with a race-winning bump and run move on teammate John Hunter Nemechek at Richmond Raceway.

And it appears to be a matter of when, not if, he lands a full-time ride with his grandfather’s team at the Cup level.

Of course, there is no guarantee that Truex will be the driver whom Gibbs replaces, even if Gibbs does receive a promotion ahead of the 2023 season after just one year as a full-time Xfinity Series driver; there are a few other uncertainties facing the team as far as their Cup Series lineup is concerned moving forward.

But Truex’s recent comments will certainly raise some eyebrows as the 19-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina native continues his quest to reach the highest level of NASCAR.

Truex is the oldest of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, though he has also seemed to adapt to the Gen 7 car better than any of his teammates — and any of the other “old guys” in the Cup Series for that matter.

He sits in third place in the point standings after seven races with the third best average finish in the series, and only one of the other six drivers inside the top seven is less than a decade younger than he is.

The 2017 champion has only finished lower than second place in the championship standings once in the last five seasons, and he has won at least four races per year in five of the last six years.

He has been clear in the past that he doesn’t have to keep racing and that he competes because he feels that he can compete for wins and championships. That certainly hasn’t changed, even with the introduction of an entirely new car. But for how much longer will he keep going, and will the success of Ty Gibbs play any role in it?

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As Truex said, expect to know the answer “pretty soon”.