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NASCAR: Predicting if Martin Truex Jr. retires after the 2023 season

Will Martin Truex Jr. retire after the 2023 NASCAR season? A final prediction has been made with potential replacements if he does hang it up.

Martin Truex Jr.

NASCAR will see at least one future Hall-of-Famer step away from full-time racing as Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick announced his intentions to retire at the conclusion of the 2023 season.

Harvick’s retirement means there will be zero drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series that have been full-time in the old full-season format. It also means Richard Childress Racing driver Kyle Busch will be the sport’s longest-tenured full-time driver.

However, could there be another retirement on the way? Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. is entering the 2023 NASCAR season with the same question as last year. Will this be his last season in the Cup Series?

Related: Martin Truex Jr. gives update on retirement decision ahead of the 2023 season

What we know about Martin Truex Jr.’s situation, final prediction on a possible retirement

NASCAR: Busch Light Clash
Feb 4, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (19) during qualifying at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This is the second straight season that Truex will be haunted by the question of whether it will be his last or not. Last year, the driver of the No. 19 car decided to commit to the 2023 season but nothing beyond that point.

It was a year that featured massive disappointment as Truex failed to make the playoffs, win a race, or even hit the five top-5 finishes mark. Quite frankly, it looked like a driver who was past their prime.

However, why did the drop for Truex happen so suddenly? One year prior, he was in a prime position to win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship but eventually fell just short of Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson.

At 42 years old, it seems likely that the NextGen car is the root of his decline. In fact, the fate of his NASCAR future also likely goes with his ability to drive the NextGen car during the 2023 season, starting in the Daytona 500.

So, what will Truex end up deciding for the 2024 season? The final prediction is that Truex will come to terms with his Hall-of-Fame career and retire from full-time racing in the Cup Series.

It has been a long career in NASCAR for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver and there is much to love about an underdog story that featured two parties (Truex and Furtunire Row Racing) who formed an incredible championship duo.

However, in the scenario where Truex does walk away from the Cup Series, who would make sense as a replacement in the No. 19 car for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2024?

Related: 3 best candidates to become Joe Gibbs Racing’s next driver in the No. 18 car

Potential candidates for Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 car in 2024

NASCAR/John Hunter Nemechek
Nov 4, 2022; Avondale, Arizona, USA; Camping World Truck Series driver John Hunter Nemechek during the Lucas Oil 150 Truck Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In the event that Truex steps away from racing, it will create a massive hole in one of NASCAR’s biggest powerhouse teams. This was the same situation Joe Gibbs Racing faced last year when Busch left the No. 18 car for Richard Childress Racing.

With Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, and Ty Gibbs all likely to stay for the 2024 season, who would be the top candidates for the No. 19 car? The list should start with NASCAR Xfinity Series driver John Hunter Nemechek.

Nemechek actually made it to the NASCAR Cup Series with Front Row Racing but decided to move back to the NASCAR Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports. This move was done in an effort to create a better long-term future with Toyota Racing.

After winning seven races in the last two seasons, the 25-year-old driver has done exactly that and earned himself a full-time opportunity in the No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series.

If Nemechek expectedly sets the world on fire this year, the organization already has the perfect slip-in candidate for Truex. There would simply be an elevation and almost secure the long-term future of the team.

Let’s say this does not happen and Nemechek’s teammate Sammy Smith pulls off a Gibbs-type rookie season. Would Smith be a prime candidate to not only replace Truex but also bring back the No. 18 car as that is his current number?

The 18-year-old driver would truly have to impress to become Truex’s replacement for the 2024 season. It is not impossible but seems pretty unlikely with Nemechek ready to make the move up as early as next season.

Smith would be a perfect candidate to replace Hamlin whenever he decides to retire from the Cup Series. Of course, Joe Gibbs Racing can’t afford to lose the Iowa native as he is NASCAR’s best prospect.

Time will tell but Truex’s decision on retirement could drop many dominos that cannot be seen right now. As of now, let’s enjoy what could be the final season of an illustrious NASCAR career.

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