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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Doesn't Want To Hear Those Martin Truex Jr. Retirement Rumors
The son of the legendary Intimidator hopes the 43-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing driver decides to return to the NASCAR Cup Series.
Plan for the worst; hope for the best.
That’s where Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s head is at these days when it comes to NASCAR Cup Series veteran Martin Truex Jr. potentially retiring.
Despite capturing his third win of the season and officially snapping his 29-race winless streak at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the conversation after the Crayon 301 was heavy on the topic of the Cup Series-leading 43-year-old possibly hanging up his fire suit, which prompted one of his good buddies to weigh in.
During an episode of Earnhardt Jr.’s podcast The Dale Jr. Download, Junior was asked what his thoughts were on the subject, and the two-time Daytona 500 gave a thoughtful response.
“I hope he races,” Junior said. “Me and Truex, I consider us to be close pals, and man I begged Rick Hendrick to hire him when he was between drivers. I don’t remember if it was Mark leaving or Kasey leaving, but that was uh, there was a time when I had a hard time convincing Rick to change the route he was going down, and also to understand what kind of a driver Martin was.”
Junior acknowledged that Truex Jr. has rubbed some competitors the wrong way in the past but, overall, the Joe Gibbs Racing wheelman of the No. 19 Toyota Camry would be sorely missed if he finally decided to hang it all up.
“If we lost Martin, we’d be losing a really cool personality and a very unique person that’s fun to pull for,” Earnhardt Jr. continued. “I know that he’s ruffled some feathers with some comments in the past about, you know, especially with Joey Logano, ‘He won the battle, but he won’t win the war,’ and then they go to Homestead, and he loses the war to Joey.”
“I know all that changed people’s minds about Martin at points, and I could read that and social media and so forth. But dang, man. Man of few words, when he speaks, he genuinely has something to say that matters to him.”
That was exactly the situation, following his historic win in New Hampshire. In his post-race presser, Truex Jr. conveyed that there are a lot of different factors to consider when he thinks about retirement from the Cup Series.
“It takes a lot. It’s not just show up the track, drive, go home,” said Truex Jr. “Take a lot, a lot of commitment, a lot of travel, a lot of time missing things with family and friends, and all those things that I’ve done for, you know, 25 years. Do I want to keep doing it? And am I willing to sacrifice all those things again for my team? So, that’s just what I’m thinking about.”
The question of Truex Jr. retiring is a familiar tune for his boss, Joe Gibbs.
"He tells me the same thing every year, that 'I'm right in the middle of trying to make this decision,'" revealed Gibbs, according to ESPN. "I go, 'Come on, what are you talking about, man? You're making money, you're having fun, you're driving race cars. Come on.'"
Out of the 34 races he’s won, 19 have been with JGR, with whom he won the 2017 Cup Series championship. Giving all that up has rendered Truex Jr. seriously conflicted.
"I'm bad at making big decisions," said the JGR driver told the Associated Press. "I wish I had more time to figure out what I want to do next year, but I don't. So, I'll know soon, and you'll know soon."