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Martin Truex Jr. decision sets stage for 2023 silly season

By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

LEBANON, Tenn. — Martin Truex Jr. doubtlessly may have created a chaotic NASCAR silly season if he opted to retire in November.

His decision final week to return to Joe Gibbs Racing for at the very least yet another season took away a doubtlessly elite open journey off the desk and doubtlessly set the desk for a yr of free company with out substantial change.

“I felt prefer it was a possibility for me to have a look at all the things,” Truex mentioned in regards to the decision-making course of. “I’ve by no means actually executed that earlier than. I’ve at all times simply did what I used to be doing. And I simply wished to ensure if I maintain going that I’m going to be pleased with that decision.

“And I’ve acquired the chance to do the issues on the racetrack that I need to do. It all feels nice and I’m completely satisfied. And we’ll see what we will do from right here.”

There nonetheless is the likelihood for massive silly season information — there tends to be an sudden twist right here or there. And there may be one main free agent nonetheless left to know the place he’ll race in 2023.

Martin Truex Jr. on why he determined to stay at Joe Gibbs Racing for 2023

Martin Truex Jr. on how Joe Gibbs, Sherry Pollex and his latest championship near-misses influenced his decision to stay at JGR for 2023.

Truex’s return definitely was excellent news for Joe Gibbs Racing, which nonetheless has to signal a sponsor to switch M&M’s for Kyle Busch, who stays and not using a stable deal for subsequent yr till a sponsor deal is accomplished. JGR must know the sponsorship cash it should obtain to know what it could pay the two-time Cup champion.

Busch has indicated he wouldn’t have many (if any) different groups seeking to signal him (clearly his wage calls for would play a job). While there at all times is a risk of Busch leaving and Truex’s staying may give Busch rather less leverage, Busch has an extended historical past with JGR and his truck workforce is intently aligned with Toyota — making many within the business count on him to stay at JGR.

JGR desires to maintain Ty Gibbs within the Xfinity Series for yet another yr after which carry him to Cup, which might align with Truex probably retiring after the 2023 season.

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

On Friday, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. introduced he had signed a multiyear extension with JTG Daugherty Racing to stay within the No. 47 automobile at the very least by means of 2024. The workforce nonetheless has one different query to reply – which producer will it run in 2023? The workforce’s take care of Chevrolet ends after this yr.

“We really feel like we’ve got a extremely good match and felt like JTG Daugherty Racing was the place we wished to be,” Stenhouse mentioned about his decision to stick with the workforce. “I really feel actually assured in who we’ve got and what we’re doing proper now and need to proceed to develop that may maintain that going.

“I don’t need to bounce round from workforce to workforce. I don’t suppose that does myself or anyone actually any favors. So I need to construct on what we have began.”

As lengthy as Busch re-signs at JGR, the highest journey out there is the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 automobile, which might be vacated by Aric Almirola after this yr.

Ryan Preece, who was signed by Stewart-Haas Racing after final season as a reserve and testing driver, could be a candidate for that journey.

Preece, who received the truck race Friday night time at Nashville, isn’t stressing over his future.

“My spouse most likely does extra worrying about my future than I do,” Preece mentioned. “I inform her on a regular basis, ‘All I can do is go out and do what I’ve always done in my entire career — and that’s try to win races.’

“I’m fortunate to have a fantastic assist system and a father who’s been nothing however train me to work actually onerous and to not give up in your desires. So I may be 31 however in racing years, you are not even near your peak.”

Erik Jones doubtlessly could be a candidate for the SHR journey, however he has persistently mentioned he want to stay at Petty GMS Racing. He mentioned he isn’t allowed to speak to different groups but (driver contracts sometimes have a specified date the place they’ll begin speaking to different groups) and mentioned he was near finalizing a deal to stay within the No. 43 automobile.

“We’re getting shut — clearly I’ve been in talks with Petty GMs now for a couple of month, I suppose, at this level and so simply sort of ending issues up [going] forwards and backwards on all of the little stuff that makes a distinction,” Jones mentioned.

“We’re going by means of that, however I really feel like we’re getting shut.”

Daniel Suárez, who earned his first profession victory earlier this month at Sonoma, is in talks to stay at Trackhouse Racing and there may be little doubt that he received’t return.

The massive title the business is speaking about is Tyler Reddick, a two-time Xfinity champion who has but to win in Cup however has proven flashes of brilliance driving for Richard Childress Racing.

RCR has an choice on Reddick for 2023 and clearly desires him again and can train the choice. That being mentioned, Reddick is on the radar of a number of groups, who doubtless wouldn’t hesitate to signal him now even when they’ve to attend till 2024 to get him.

For him to not return to RCR subsequent yr would take some (or rather a lot) of negotiation if one other workforce wished to get him for 2023 versus 2024.

There aren’t many different openings for top-30 groups in the mean time. Front Row Motorsports at all times indicators its drivers to 1-year offers. Its Camping World Truck Series driver Zane Smith, with three victories, doubtlessly may make the soar to Cup however with Michael McDowell sitting twenty first within the standings and Todd Gilliland being a rookie means the workforce may need to make a tough decision if it desires Smith in Cup.

Thinking out loud

NASCAR typically will get criticized for beginning a race or restarting a race with potential climate within the space and having the race rapidly stopped due to rain.

That state of affairs appeared as a risk Sunday as NASCAR restarted the Nashville race 10 laps from midway and with potential rain within the space. It needed to run 10 laps beneath warning to get pit street dry (the vehicles had been staged on pit street throughout the rain delay) and to open pit street for pit stops.

If the rain that threatened got here within the subsequent couple of laps, NASCAR would have been in a foul state of affairs, getting a race in however no actual race to the end.

Instead, the rain by no means got here and NASCAR accomplished all the race. This was a kind of nights the place NASCAR’s coverage of resuming the race when it’s dry and seeing what occurs turned out to be the proper transfer.

Social highlight

Stat of the day

Hendrick Motorsports has six wins this yr — no different group has greater than three.

They mentioned it

“These issues are onerous to return by, and you must take pleasure in them. You by no means know when or if ever you’ll get one other one. So tremendous grateful.” Chase Elliott after his win

 Bob Pockrass has spent a long time masking motorsports, together with the previous 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 following stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene journal 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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