No Fan of NextGen
Martin Truex Jr., one of NASCAR’s greats, bluntly admitted last year that his future in NASCAR is uncertain and that he is seriously considering retirement. As stated by the 41-year-old, his decision would be directly affected by how he feels about the NextGen car, and so far we have yet to hear any exciting news from him.
Ahead of the 2022 Toyota Owners 400, for which Truex, according to the latest Toyota Owners 400 odds, is priced as the third favorite, the former NASCAR Cup Series champion has hinted that this Richmond race could be his last.
At age 41, Truex has seen a lot during his long and prosperous career as a NASCAR driver, but like many other veterans, he is not the biggest fan of the NextGen cars. Perhaps it’s not too far from the truth to say that Truex is the most vocal of all drivers about his disapproval of the new engines.
In 2021, Truex proved that he was far from beyond his prime form, winning four races and finishing the season in second place, behind only the unstoppable Kyle Larson.
But despite his success, Truex has admitted that his future in NASCAR is uncertain and that it will heavily depend on whether or not he enjoys driving in the NextGen car.
“I would say, yes it would. It will, I think, and that’s a fair question. I think, look at the new car, see what it’s like, go racing, hopefully, it’s fun,” said Truex last year.
“Hopefully, I have as much fun as I have driving these things. I love working with my team. I still love racing, but for sure, that’s going to be a big deal. If it’s not fun, I won’t hang around too long. I don’t have to do this anymore. I’m still around because I really want to do this and continue winning races and hopefully more championships.”
Even though Truex clearly does not like competing in the new cars, he has done well this season with three top-10s and five top-20s across the opening six races. But due to his lack of motivation to keep competing, you could definitely question whether he will deliver at the Toyota Owners 400.
Solid Season (So Far)
Truex heads to Richmond as the current No. 7 in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, with 172 points, 36 short of current leader Chase Elliott. That definitely isn’t a large gap considering we’re only six races deep into the 2022 season, and it’s more than fair to say that Truex has been driving well.
Truex locked in back-to-back 13th-place finishes at Daytona and California, and has since added three top-10s. Besides the unfortunate Phoenix race (where he placed 35th), Truex showed up with an eighth-place finish in Las Vegas and Atlanta and a sixth-place finish at COTA last weekend.
With such figures, Truex should be on everyone’s radar ahead of the Richmond race, and if the latest NASCAR race odds for this weekend mean anything, Truex could be in the mix to pocket his first win of the season.
Aside from his solid start to the season, Truex Jr. is also known as a very good driver in Richmond. Last year, he placed fifth here in April and won the fall race, marking his first victory since 2019, when he claimed both races.
Even more impressive is that Truex has not placed outside of top-five in his last six appearances at Richmond and has 14 career top-10s across 31 starts. So it’s fair to say that Truex should be in a good spot to add his fourth victory in Richmond, but it remains to be seen whether that success will make him change his mind about his future in NASCAR.
Hall of Fame-Caliber Driver
If Truex ends up calling it quits on his career, he is one of the drivers many can agree is destined for the Hall of Fame. The 2017 Cup Series champion has won 31 races in 19 years, so it’s fair to say that his legacy is secure.
Even Truex himself admitted that he feels he doesn’t need to race anymore to prove a point. He only does it because he wants to compete and because it’s fun – or at least it was fun.
These next few weeks will prove very interesting for the veteran driver and NASCAR fans, as Truex is forced to decide about his future and not keep his team guessing on how to move forward. Whether Truex will actually move away from the sport or not is a mystery, but perhaps a win at the Toyota Owners 400 might change his mind.
Interestingly, Truex seems bound to win at least one race shortly, seeing how the last time he hadn’t had a win by June was in 2014.