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The REAL Reason Martin Truex Jr. Decided to Return to JGR

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Joshua Lipowski

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The next NASCAR Silly Season domino fell this weekend, with Martin Truex Jr. announcing that he would be returning to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2024. The question for some became why? Why would Martin Truex Jr. come back to JGR in 2024?

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What Martin Truex Jr. Had to Say

Bob Pockrass was the one who Truex Jr. broke the news to on Saturday afternoon. Truex Jr. kept his answers short and simple.

When asked why, Truex Jr. simply said to Pockrass, “Because I want to”. However, the most interesting line that Pockrass pulled from his tweet was, “It just didn’t feel right to not come back and keep doing what we’re doing.” That’s not a black-and-white answer, but it does shed some light.

Martin Truex Jr. is having a great season, but, when looking at his career, it’s not a career-year per se. It’s just the standard Truex we’ve seen generally over the past few seasons. Last season, when retirement rumors were swirling around him, was truly an anomaly.

In his previous seven seasons, 2015 through 2021, Truex Jr. won four or more races five times and made the Championship Four five times. The 2022 season was not normal, as he failed to win a race and, as a result of no wins, failed to make the Playoffs for the first time since 2014.

It seems like his return to being a race-win contender week-in and week-out has played a role in convincing him to stay for 2024. Would he stay if he was not a competitive driver? It’s an impossible question to answer, but, that is usually when drivers tend to retire.

When NASCAR Drivers Typically Retire

NASCAR drivers are notorious for waiting as long as possible before hanging the helmet up for good Rarely do NASCAR drivers go out on top. Typically, it’s a few non-competitive seasons, and maybe a retirement tour before they say goodbye to the sport forever.

Jimmie Johnson is the most recent example of such. He won his last race in 2017, but he ran three more full-time seasons. He did not win a race, and he even failed to make the Playoffs in his final two seasons in 2019 and 2020.

Kevin Harvick can even be considered in this category to an extent. He has only won two races since the start of the 2021 season. Jeff Gordon, despite making the Championship Four in is final season, had both a career low in top-5 finishes and the least amount of laps led since his rookie season in 1993.

The two most obvious offenders of this are Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. Both ran seven and eight seasons respectively following their last career win, and they both finished outside of the top-20 in points in their final five seasons.

Martin Truex Jr. may not go to the same extreme as some of these drivers did when it comes to waiting to retire. However, it does show that drivers can have a hard time walking away when they are competitive. It’s understandable why.

If a driver can still win races and championships, then why stop? Why would they cut their career short if they can still accomplish great things? Drivers who retire abruptly like Carl Edwards are incredibly rare, and Martin Truex Jr. will not be one of those drivers.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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