Martin Truex Jr.’s Decision Sets the Stage for Silly 2023 Season


By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

LEBANON, Tennessee — Martin Truex Jr. could potentially have created chaos NASCAR silly season if he chose to retire in November.

His decision last week to return to Joe Gibbs Racing for at least one more season took a potentially elite open trip off the table and potentially set the table for a year of free agency with no substantive changes.


“I felt like it was an opportunity to look at everything,” Truex said of the decision-making process. “I’ve never really done that before. I always did what I was doing. And I just wanted to make sure that if I go forward, I’m happy with that decision.”

“And I get to do the things I want to do on the race track. Everything feels great and I’m happy. And we’ll see what we can do from here.”

There’s still a chance for big silly news of the season – there tends to be an unexpected twist here or there. And there is still one important free agent to know where he will compete in 2023.

Martin Truex Jr. on why he decided to stay with Joe Gibbs Racing for 2023

Martin Truex Jr. on why he decided to stay with Joe Gibbs Racing for 2023

Martin Truex Jr. on how Joe Gibbs, Sherry Pollex and their recent championship near misses influenced his decision to stay with JGR for 2023.

Truex’s return was certainly good news for Joe Gibbs Racing, which has yet to sign a sponsor to replace M&M’s with Kyle Busch, who remains without a solid deal for next year until a sponsor deal is finalized. JGR needs to know the sponsorship money it will receive to know what it can pay the two-time Cup champion.

Busch has indicated that he wouldn’t have many (if any) other teams looking to sign him (obviously, his salary demands would play a role). While there is always the possibility that Busch will leave and Truex’s tenure could give Busch a little less clout, Busch has a long history with JGR and his truck team is closely aligned with Toyota, which makes many in the industry expect him to stay at JGR.

JGR wants to keep Ty Gibbs in the Xfinity Series for one more year and then take him to Cup, which would align with the possibility of Truex retiring after the 2023 season.

Truex wasn’t the only driver to announce his 2023 intentions last week at Nashville Superspeedway.

On Friday, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. announced that he had signed a multi-year extension with JTG Daugherty Racing to stay in the No. 47 car through at least 2024. The team still has another question to answer: Which manufacturer will it race with in 2023? The team’s agreement with Chevrolet ends after this year.

“We felt like a great fit and felt like JTG Daugherty Racing was where we wanted to be,” Stenhouse said of his decision to stay with the team. “I feel very confident in what we have and what we are doing at the moment and I want to continue growing so that I can continue like this.

“I don’t want to jump from one team to another. I don’t think that does me or anyone any favors. So I want to build on what we’ve started.”

As long as Busch re-signs at JGR, the best vehicle available is the No. 10 car from Stewart-Haas Racing, which will be vacated by Aric Almirola after this year.

Ryan Preece, who was signed by Stewart-Haas Racing after last season as a reserve and test driver, would be a candidate for that trip.

Preece, who won Friday night’s truck race at Nashville, isn’t stressed about his future.

“My wife probably cares more about my future than I do,” Preece said. “I tell him all the time, ‘All I can do is go out there and do what I’ve always done my whole career, and that’s try to win races.’

“I’m lucky to have a great support system and a father who has been nothing but teaching me to work really hard and not give up on your dreams. I may be 31, but in racing years, you’re not even close to your dreams”. top.”

Erik Jones could be a potential candidate for the SHR, but has always said he would like to stay with Petty GMS Racing. He said he is not yet allowed to talk to other teams (drivers’ contracts usually have a specific date when they can start talking to other teams) and said he was close to finalizing a deal to stay in the car. #43

“We’re getting close — obviously I’ve been in talks with Petty’s GMs for about a month, I guess, at this point and so I’m just wrapping things up.” [going] back and forth on all the little things that make a difference,” Jones said.

“We’re going through it, but I feel like we’re getting closer.”

Daniel Suarezwho earned his first career victory earlier this month at Sonoma, is in talks to remain with Trackhouse Racing and there is little doubt he will not return.

The big name the industry is talking about is Tyler Reddick, a two-time Xfinity champion who has yet to win in Cup but has shown flashes of brilliance behind the wheel of Richard Childress Racing.

RCR has an option on Reddick for 2023 and obviously wants him back and will exercise the option. That said, Reddick is on the radar of a number of teams, who probably wouldn’t hesitate to sign him now, even if they have to wait until 2024 to get him.

For him, not returning to RCR next year would require some (or a lot of) negotiation if another team wanted to have him for 2023 instead of 2024.

There aren’t many other openings for the top 30 teams right now. Front Row Motorsports always hire their drivers on 1 year contracts. Their Camping World Truck Series driver Zane Smith with three wins could make the jump to Cup, but with Michael McDowell sitting 21st in the standings and Todd Gilliland a rookie, it means the team may have to take a tough decision if he wants Smith in Taza.

Thinking out loud

NASCAR is often criticized for starting a race or restarting a race with potential weather in the area and quickly stopping the race due to rain.

That scenario appeared as a possibility Sunday when NASCAR restarted the Nashville race 10 laps from the half and with potential rain in the area. He had to run 10 laps under caution to dry pit road (cars had been placed on pit road during the rain delay) and to open pit road for pit stops.

If the threatening rain came in the next two laps, NASCAR would have been in a bad spot, getting a race but not a true race to the finish.

Instead, the rain never came and NASCAR completed the entire race. This was one of those nights where NASCAR’s policy of restarting the race when it’s dry and seeing what happens turned out to be the right move.

community focus

Statistics of the day

Hendrick Motorsports has six wins this year; no other organization has more than three.

they said it

“These things are hard to come by and you have to enjoy them. You never know when or if you’ll ever get another one. So grateful.” Chase Elliott after his victory

Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after working at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!

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