‘Content’ Truex happy with timing his retirement decision right

Although he had been leaning toward retirement for most of the season, Martin Truex Jr. still wasn’t totally sure until he officially informed Joe Gibbs Racing a few weeks ago.

“It just took a while to think about it all,” Truex said Friday at Iowa Speedway. “It’s a big decision. It affects not just me but a lot of people, and that’s the toughest part. You don’t want to let people down.”

Truex will vacate a full-time ride in the NASCAR Cup Series after 19 seasons. The 43-year-old has spent the last six seasons driving the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. His resume includes two NASCAR Xfinity Series championships and a Cup Series championship.


“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,” Truex said. “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. I don’t know any of that yet, but I feel very fortunate to be in this position [and] to be able to make this decision on my terms. It’s something I always wanted to be able to do.”

Truex didn’t rule out running Xfinity Series races for Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs, who joined Truex for his press conference, said the company might be able to talk him into running some races. Furthermore, Truex will remain involved at Joe Gibbs Racing in an ambassador role, with projects and details to be figured out in the future.

“What we’re really excited about is Martin continuing with us and the future,” Gibbs said. “I’m sure I’m going to have to find [him] someplace in a boat or with Johnny [Morris] in a tree blind someplace, but we’re going to run him down. We’re excited about the future.”

The decision to retire comes after multiple seasons of Truex going year-to-year on his contract. Why it happened now was simply because it “felt like the right time” to him. It has nothing to do with performance, although he admitted some days are more fun than others.

Truex is fifth in the Cup Series championship point standings with 10 races left in the regular season, winless entering the inaugural event at Iowa Speedway.

“I’ve thought about it a lot for the past few seasons and just waited for that feeling in my mind to be positive, like, ‘OK, I’m good; I want to do something else,’” Truex said. “Something just felt different this year for me, and I felt like it was time to slow down and do something else. It’s been a great ride, though, obviously.”

At the Cup Series level, Truex has 34 victories and a championship. In the elimination format era (2014 to present), he’s made the championship five times, won one championship, and claimed the regular season championship twice. He even has two crown jewels on his resume — wins in the Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500 — as part of his 48 victories across the three NASCAR national series.

“I would say I’ve achieved more than I ever thought I would,” Truex said. “That being said, there are a lot of heartbreakers and things to go back and think about like, ‘Man, if that had turned out different…’ A championship [and] three runner ups in this format [is really good].

“I’m proud of what I’ve done. I feel like I gave it everything I had, and I feel like I was really, really good at what I did, so I’m happy with that. I’m content. I feel good. I’m happy. I feel good about this.”

Story originally appeared on Racer