Beaming after a long-awaited win at his home track, Martin Truex Jr. coyly lamented his own decision making.
“I’m bad at making big decisions,” Truex said.
Luckily he’s much better at driving race cars, as Monday’s race at Loudon proved. Truex led 254 of 301 laps, swept both stages and stomped the field to claim his third victory of the season. He also reclaimed the points lead from William Byron.
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Admittedly, the peak in performance cannot ease the retirement dilemma in front of the 43-year-old, although when asked again about retirement on Monday at the post-race press conference, Truex admitted that a second title would make a great storybook ending.
“It would be really great to win the championship and go into the sunset, but I don’t know,” he said.
However, to hear him say it, victories and speed do not count in his decision.
“My team is amazing, they deserve the best driver, the guy who wants it more than anyone and I’ve been that guy and I want to make sure that if I come back I’m ready to do it.” Truex said. “It takes a lot. It’s not just about showing up on the track, driving the car and going home.
“It takes a lot of commitment. It’s a lot of travel, a lot of missing things with my family and friends and all those things I’ve done for 25 years. Do I want to keep doing it and am I willing to sacrifice all those things again for my team?
“That’s exactly what I’m thinking. I don’t know if running well and winning makes a difference.
No matter what happened in Monday’s race, Truex had an answer, but that ability gave him away once the question of retirement came up again. His only response was that an answer would come in the near future.
“I wish I had more time to figure out what I want to do next year, but I’m not doing it,” Truex said. “So, I’ll find out soon and you’ll find out soon.”
Let’s move up a gear.
Table of Contents
First gear: Michael McDowell claims responsibility for Ryan Preece dust
Michael McDowell has taken full responsibility for an altercation with Ryan Preece.
Then he admitted that his apology was probably irrelevant.
“It was a mistake, but it doesn’t matter,” McDowell said. “The intention in our sport, although it doesn’t matter at the moment because he got a bad finish because I hit him. It’s 100% my fault.”
McDowell said the incident was the result of a poorly executed crossover move and downshift, leaving him loose and sending him down the track into Preece, who then hit the wall. Preece finished 28e while McDowell came home 13e.
The two were seen chatting on pit road with Preece not looking too happy. It was no surprise to McDowell.
“He has every right to be angry,” McDowell said. “I understand why he is upset.”
Second gear: Christopher Bell and his terrible, horrible, not good, very bad day
While Truex felt joy and appreciation in the aftermath of Monday, there were plenty of other riders on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum.
Case in point? Christopher Bell, who sat on the pole and raced with Truex until a competition warning, a slow pit stop, a loose wheel, a questionable strategy call and a late crash derailed this that looked like a solid foolproof day.
Bell limped home 29e and was clearly irritated, leaving only to wonder what could have been.
“I was right there with him while we were up front,” Bell said of Truex. “I guess that’s all I know.”
Third gear: Noah Gragson and a terrible, horrible, not good, very bad season
See also: Noah Gragson.
It reached cruel and unusual levels for the rookie as a loose right front wheel fell late in Monday’s race, prompting a warning and sending Gragson to the garage.
Still, business was business as usual as Gragson has now finished 30th or worse 10 times.
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“I don’t know what to do anymore,” he sighed in exasperation.
As for getting back in shape for next week’s race at Pocono?
“I’m going to come as prepared as possible for my race team and do the best job I can do,” he said.
Fourth gear: Pocono can make fans happy
Over the past five races at Pocono, Kyle Larson has the best average at 5.3, but the driver with the most top 10s in that span? Kevin Harvick with four.
And if a victory for Happy wasn’t sentimental enough, how about a victory for Chase Elliott? He is the title holder of the event.