In speaking of Martin Truex Jr.’s victory on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson admitted the campaign has begun to keep Truex in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota next season.
“It sure has, and I am optimistic,” Wilson said Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Truex signed a new contract with Gibbs last year, but just for one year. The 42-year-old former NASCAR Cup Series champion spent months weighing his options last season with rumors swirling he was seriously considering retirement. In speaking about his decision to return in 2023, Truex said it came down to whether he was happy with what he was doing but hinted it would be the same process again this season.
“From my frame of reference and where (he) is, a future Hall of Famer in this sport, it’s about how fun he’s having, and you see him climbing out of that race car more and more often with a smile on his face,” said Wilson.
“I also want to give a shoutout to the 19 team. James Small and the 19 team kept Martin out front on Sunday, and I’ve talked in the past dating back to last year, really our Achilles heel has been execution in pit lane, and what that team did on Sunday was awesome.
“They were on it. They maintained his track position. I think Martin talked a little bit about it in that he’s had great cars, he’s had some terrible luck, he’s had some poor execution in pit lane. So, for the best car to win, it still requires the team to do their job, and that was, again, very satisfying. And yes, we certainly hope that Martin continues to have fun because I believe that that will be integral to him coming back for another year at least.”
Truex’s win at Sonoma was his second on the season. It was his fourth win at the California road course.
More than halfway through the regular season, Truex is locked into the postseason and leads the Cup Series championship standings.
Sonoma was a successful weekend for Toyota, which struggled as an organization on the road courses last season. Toyota has now won the first two road course races on the schedule (Tyler Reddick won at Circuit of the Americas), with Denny Hamlin starting from the pole and leading 33 laps. A mistake hitting the wall off Turn 11 relegated Hamlin to a last-place finish as Truex went to victory lane.
“He has definitely got his groove back,” Wilsons said of Truex. “His win Sunday at Sonoma now makes obviously his second in the last six races; I think he has four top fives (and) five top-10s in that same span, and I’m so happy for him.
“I think Martin’s just in a good place, not just on the track but off the track. I love his spirit. I love the gracious way that he wins and competes. So, I’m a fan of Martin, and I think he’s going to go deep this year.”