After Repeated Retirement Tease, Is This the Last Daytona 500 Rodeo for Martin Truex Jr?

Published 02/11/2024, 8:49 AM EST

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Martin Truex Jr is a personification of consistency. The 43-year-old has churned out wins and results throughout a long-spanning NASCAR career. However, it seemed like his career had reached its dusk in 2022. After a winless season, the No.19 Toyota driver contemplated retirement and was close to hanging up his helmet. Fortunately, there was no such announcement. But before the driver can draw the curtain on his glittering career, the only thing missing from his resume is a Daytona 500 win. Compared to his teammate Denny Hamlin, a three-time winner of the Great American race, his statistics fall pale. However, with his retirement rumors still afresh, will this be the last time the #19 driver sets his foot at ‘The Great American Race’ track?

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Martin Truex Jr is unsure about regretting the lack of Daytona 500 wins on his repertoire

Truex Jr has started in 37 races at the Daytona International Speedway, and his record is surprising. While he has yet to win a race at the prestigious venue, he came the closest to winning eight years ago. In the 2016 Daytona 500, Martin Truex Jr finished second behind Denny Hamlin by a margin of 0.010 seconds. That finish is the closest any race has seen in NASCAR’s history.

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Truex Jr has an average finish of 21.4 at the Daytona International Speedway with only 144 laps led and three top-5 finishes. The statistics suggest that Martin Truex Jr has mostly failed to make an impact on races at the iconic venue. While a Great American win might be something his fans are hoping for, for Truex Jr, it won’t be that big of a deal if he fails to do it. Speaking to FOX Sports, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said, “I mean obviously I want it, it’d be great, it’d be amazing,”

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“I don’t know if I’d be completely disappointed with my career as a whole if someday when I retire, and I look back, and I’m like, ‘Ah, I didn’t win that race’. I don’t know if that is a big deal to me or not, I think I still have opportunities to get it done, so I try not to think about it. But it’d be huge, be huge to win for sure.

Having won 34 Cup Series races, Martin Truex Jr can make it 35 on February 17. While the task on hand is arduous, he has the tools and the experience to do so. If 2023 taught us anything, it is that Truex Jr has aged like fine wine.

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Can Truex Jr regain his 2023 form?

2023 was a year of redemption for Martin Truex Jr. The No.19 driver returned to form after breaking his 54-race winless streak at Dover in May. While Dover has been one of his strongest race tracks, the veteran’s 2022 season suggested that considering him a contender would be an overstatement. However, Truex Jr brushed aside the doubts and went on to break his streak.

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Throughout the season, Martin Truex Jr went on to win three races and progressed to the playoffs as the second-seeded driver behind playoff point standings leader William Byron. While Byron was in unreal form and eventually raced for the title in Phoenix, Truex Jr used his best weapon, consistency, to the best of his ability and claimed the regular season championship.

However, that was the end of his success in the year, as he faced increasing struggles with every passing playoff round. Martin Truex Jr managed to stay alive in the competition thanks to his massive playoff points tally, but only till the Round of 8. This raised the same old question again. Is retirement close for Martin Truex Jr?

The 43-year-old had a decent outing at the Coliseum with a P9 finish but will have some convincing to do. With a capable crew and team owner beside him, it is possible to bring Martin Truex Jr back in the form of his life, even more so if 2024 is his last NASCAR season.

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek

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Ansuman Abhisek is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. Even before he made his way into the world of motorsports, he had already made a name for himself in the sports journalism field by working as a writer for a few media houses. Now, having covered multiple Cup races live, he has often been the first to report on-track incidents and also provide his readers with an in-depth analysis of the same.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

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