By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer
LEBANON, Tenn. – Martin Truex Jr. still wants to drive a race car. So he will.
Truex said Friday that he would return to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2023 as the sides have agreed to terms for next season.
The 42-year-old Truex, the 2017 Cup champion, has weighed for the last six months whether to return to JGR or retire.
His announcement was pure Truex. During his weekly media availability – which typically include a question on his 2023 plans – the No. 19 JGR driver walked into the Nashville Superspeedway media center and simply said: “I’ll be back in the 19 next year.”
Martin Truex Jr. on why he decided to remain at Joe Gibbs Racing for 2023
Martin Truex Jr. on how Joe Gibbs, Sherry Pollex and his recent championship near-misses influenced his decision to remain at JGR for 2023.
Three weeks ago, Truex said he was a little tormented in trying to figure out what to do. Currently sixth in the Cup standings, the winner of 31 Cup races said he took advice from many and made the decision on his own.
“The competitive side of me said, ‘I’m not done and I’m going to keep fighting,’” Truex said. “So here we are.”
Truex said he just wanted to look at whether he wanted to continue racing and took his time as he learned NASCAR’s new Next Gen car. Obviously team owner Joe Gibbs had done his best to convince Truex to race at least one more year.
“I tried to just to think about all this myself and figure it out,” Truex said. “Friends and family helped as well. I just wanted to look and make sure I was doing the right thing.”
Truex told his team earlier Friday and said he was surprised that they were excited. It’s not that he thought they wanted him gone, but he said he underestimated the emotions they would have.
“They were happier than I expected them to be,” Truex said. “I just didn’t realize what it meant to them for all of us to work together and the bond we developed. … They’re a great bunch.”
While he does have one Cup title, Truex has finished second in the standings in three of the last four years. He said that was a motivating factor.
“I’d love to get another opportunity,” Truex said. “I feel like the chances of that are still there. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t be here. I don’t race for anything less than putting myself out there and doing the best we can do.
“I feel like we can still do it. So we’ll keep fighting.”
And so will 2023 definitely be the last year?
“These decisions are not easy,” Truex said. “It took me six months to figure out this one. Give me six more at least to figure out the next one, please.”
Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 following stints 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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