NASCAR: Reigning regular season champion calls it quits

Though he continues to perform at a high level, Martin Truex Jr. confirmed that the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season is set to be his last.
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

Martin Truex Jr. decided not to let "Father Time" catch up to him before calling it quits on his NASCAR Cup Series career, which includes starts in every single race that has been contested since the 2006 season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

After signing several one-year contract extensions to remain with Joe Gibbs Racing in recent years, each time amid rumors that he was considering hanging up his firesuit, the 43-year-old Mayetta, New Jersey determined this time around that it is indeed time to move on.

At the end of the 2024 season, the 2017 Cup Series champion is set to turn over the reins of the No. 19 Toyota to somebody else.

Truex became the oldest active full-time driver in the Cup Series ahead of the 2024 season, after Kevin Harvick decided to bring an end to his own legendary 23-year career at the end of last season.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin, who is also 43, is set to become the series' oldest full-time driver in 2025.

Martin Truex Jr., still performing well, decides it's time to retire

While it's hard to argue that Truex is still in his prime, given everything he accomplished at Furniture Row Racing in the late 2010s, as well as what he achieved at Joe Gibbs Racing in the even later 2010s and early 2020s, there is no doubt that he is set to retire knowing that he didn't wait for a point when he simply could no longer be competitive.

He even admitted in his retirement announcement that his decision had nothing to do with performance.

Truex did miss the playoffs in 2022 after his first winless season since 2014, but he still finished in fourth place in the regular season standings. His lack of a victory, coupled with the surplus of winners in year number one of the Next Gen car, ultimately kept him out of the postseason.

He responded in 2023 by winning the regular season championship, collecting three checkered flags along the way. He simply got cold at the wrong time and wasn't able to make much of an impact during the four-round, 10-race playoffs.

Truex hasn't yet won this year, but he still sits in fifth place in the point standings, and he had two wins practically in the bag at Richmond Raceway and Kansas Speedway before late caution flags led to strategy and restart chaos.

After more than doubling his career win total in 2016 with four victories for Furniture Row Racing, he did the same thing in 2017 with eight, winning the Cup Series title to cap off a four-win postseason. He also won seven races in his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019, the year after Barney Visser's team shut down.

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From 2017 to 2021, Truex finished in the top two in the championship standings and won at least four races in four of the five years, a level of consistency that simply hasn't been matched in recent years by anybody.