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Truex Jr. to retire from Cup racing

NEWTON — Martin Truex Jr. announced Friday he will retire from full-time racing at the end of the season, saying it was time to live by his own schedule after 19 years in NASCAR’s Cup Series.

“I mean, it’s as simple as just not having a crazy schedule where, you know, you’re 40 weekends at a race track,” Truex said at Iowa Speedway, where he will be making his 674th Cup start on Sunday. “Everyone in my family, who’s ever gotten married, I’ve missed their wedding. You know what I mean? … You don’t have a life. You’re married to racing, that’s all you do. Monday until Sunday, that’s all you do.”

Questions about possible retirement have followed Truex over the last couple years. The news broke on Thursday — “I don’t even know why I’m here,” Truex joked as he started his news conference — but Truex said he made the decision “a few weeks ago.”

“I was leaning that way most of the season,” Truex said. “I was leaning that direction, but I wasn’t totally sure. So I just took a while to think about it all. It’s a big decision. It affects not just me, it affects a lot of people.”

Truex said it was difficult to tell Joe Gibbs, the 83-year-old owner of Truex’s Joe Gibbs Racing team.

“Coach has been awesome,” Truex said of Gibbs. “He helped me work through it. He would always make a list of pros and cons and his list of pros was always longer than mine.”

“I think the last time I had nine pluses and two minuses,” Gibbs interjected.

Truex has won 34 Cup races, 32 since 2015. He had a career-high eight wins in 2017, when he won the series championship.

Truex also won the 2004 and 2005 Xfinity Series championships, winning 13 races in that series.

“It’s been just absolutely great working with him,” Gibbs said. “I think everybody knows Martin’s reputation — a real gentleman, a great competitor. And it’s obviously something that is going to be a big deal for us, and a big loss.”

“Martin’s a very chill guy,” Brad Keselowski said. “I don’t know what the next chapter of his life will be — I don’t think he knows. But he’ll be missed.”

Truex, who turns 44 on June 29, hasn’t won a Cup race since last July at New Hampshire, a span of 32 races. He has four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 16 races this season, and is fifth in the standings, 53 points behind leader Kyle Larson.

Truex said his decision didn’t have anything to do with his performance.

“We’ve had some disappointments this year, for sure,” Truex said. “It’s not enough to make you stop doing what you want to do.”

Gibbs said he has begun the search for Truex’s replacement.

“We’re still working on all that,” Gibbs said. “So we just want to focus right now on Martin, and all of that stuff will take place later on.”

For now, Truex will try his best to finish strong in his final season.

“I guess it’ll feel different knowing that I’ll be going to tracks for the last time in a Cup car,” Truex said. “I’m not sure what it’s going to be like but I’m going to try to enjoy it.”

Gibbs said Truex would remain with the team as an “ambassador,” and Truex said he hadn’t ruled out running an occasional race.

“He’s got Xfinity cars,” Truex said, laughing as he nodded toward Gibbs. “‘Coach, I’m bored, I want to go race. Let’s go.'”

Whatever Truex does, though, it will be on his own time.

“It’s going to be interesting to lead kind of a normal life for a while and see what it’s like,” Truex said. “I have never done that.”

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