Martin Truex Jr. retiring at end of 2024

Martin Truex Jr. felt it was time to regain control over his own life and his own schedule.

“I’m obviously here to let y’all know that I won’t be back full-time next year,” Truex said Friday in a press conference with team owner Joe Gibbs, confirming the widely reported news that he will exit the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at season’s end.

“It’s been incredible. It’s been a hell of a ride. I’m excited about the future, and I’m not really sure what that looks like yet,” Truex added.

There are several issues, however, that are already settled. The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion will continue with JGR in what is vaguely defined as an “ambassadorial capacity.” He likely will compete in an occasional NASCAR Xfinity Series race for the organization.

And Truex will fulfill a stated purpose of reclaiming his time as his own.

“It’s the right time for me. I’ve thought about it a lot for the last few seasons — just waited for that feeling in my mind to be positive, like ‘This is OK, I’m good, and I want to do something else,’” Truex said.

“In the 21 years that I’ve done this, I’ve never missed a race. I’ve never missed a practice. I’ve never been late for anything. I’ve never missed an appearance. You live your life by a schedule that somebody makes for you, and it’s just time for me to make my own schedule.

“That’s really what it boils down to. I want to go do the things I want to do, and I don’t want anyone to tell me when I can and when I can’t do those things. I still love racing. I’m still going to race some — I don’t know what, when, how, why — but I feel very fortunate to be in this position to make this decision.”

Gibbs said he had a sense of what Truex’s decision would be. Truex will turn 44 on June 29. That makes him the elder statesman of JGR by less than five months over teammate Denny Hamlin, a three-time winner so far this season.

“I did everything I could to keep it going,” Gibbs said of his efforts to retain Truex for another season. “I think we’ve got two 43-year-olds that are at the top of their game.”

Now in his 19th season of full-time Cup racing, Truex has accumulated 34 victories, 23 poles, 146 top fives and 287 top 10s in 673 starts in NASCAR’s top series. He also won consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series titles in 2004 and 2005 with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Chance 2 Motorsports.

Truex’s high-water mark in the Cup Series came in 2017. Driving for Furniture Row Racing and paired with crew chief Cole Pearn, he scored career bests in victories (eight) and top 10s (26) en route to the series championship, which he claimed with a win in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After stints with Dale Earnhardt Inc., Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Furniture Row, Truex joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019. He won seven times that season and finished second in the final standings for the second straight year.

Though winless so far this season, Truex currently is fifth in the Cup Series standings, despite running out of fuel and finishing 27th in last Sunday’s road course event at Sonoma Raceway.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps acknowledged Truex’s achievements in a statement extolling his successes as a competitor and a person.

“Martin Truex Jr. has been a consistent figure over the last two-plus decades in NASCAR — a consistent winner, champion and fan-favorite,” Phelps said. “Though he especially excelled on NASCAR’s biggest stages, Martin performed his craft with a quiet tenacity, allowing his immense success tell his incredible story.

“On behalf of the France Family and all of NASCAR, I congratulate Martin on a wonderful career and wish him the best of luck for the remainder of his final full-time season.”

As he plans his exit from full-time racing, Truex has few, if any, regrets.

“I would say I’ve achieved more than I ever thought I would,” he said. “That being said, there’s a lot of heartbreakers. There’s a lot of things you go back and think about like, ‘Man, if that had turned out different.’

“But a championship and three runners-up in this (elimination) format, I feel like that’s really good. I’m proud of what I’ve done. I feel like I gave it everything I had, and I feel I’m really, really good at what I did, so I’m happy with that—I’m content.”

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