3 Veterans’ Futures Could Become Focus of 2023 NASCAR Season

Denny Hamlin

Getty Denny Hamlin (left) will face questions about his future during the 2023 season.

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season will feature numerous storylines, such as the opportunity for winless drivers to break their streaks. One of the biggest will be the futures of Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr.

The three veteran drivers all enter the 2023 season with uncertain futures. Harvick is under contract with Stewart-Haas Racing while Truex agreed to rejoin Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2023 season. Hamlin signed a multi-year deal with JGR ahead of the 2021 season.

The exact details of Hamlin’s extension were not divulged by him or JGR. However, Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal reported during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the deal will expire after the 2023 campaign. The same goes for primary partner FedEx.

Will Hamlin retire after the 2023 season and focus on running 23XI, or will he aim to secure a new contract and remain with Joe Gibbs Racing? The veteran does not know the answer, but he told Dale Earnhardt Jr. in May that he wants to close out his career with FedEx as his primary partner. He also said that he wants to win his last start.

“I would like to retire at Gibbs with FedEx,” Hamlin said during a May appearance on “The Dale Jr. Download” podcast. “Because it’s so unique to have a sponsor that has been a part of the sport as long as they have and backed me as long as they have. I just… there’s just no way I could leave them.

Hamlin’s future will remain a focus during the 2023 season, especially if he adds more wins to his total and ties Tony Stewart on the all-time list. He remains in his prime, so it’s possible that he could return to JGR once again.

Truex Will Take His Future Season-by-Season

GettyMartin Truex Jr. will return to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2023.

Truex became the focus of many conversations throughout the first half of the 2022 Cup Series season. His contract was set to expire after the season finale at Phoenix Raceway, but he did not provide any information about whether he would return or retire.

The conversation changed on June 24. Joe Gibbs Racing tweeted out a simple message confirming that Truex would return for the 2023 Cup Series season. He would be back in the No. 19 Toyota Camry TRD while pursuing his second career championship.

When Truex announced his return, he immediately faced questions about the 2024 season. Would he add another 36-race schedule? Truex’s answer to these questions was laughter. He said that it took him six months to make a decision about 2023. He would need another six months before thinking about 2024.

As Truex explained, he loves the camaraderie, the competition, and pursuing a common goal with the team members. It’s the grind that wears him down throughout the season that features 36 points-paying races and two exhibition events.

The grind will be one factor in whether Truex returns. How the season plays out will be another. The 2017 Cup Series champion was consistent overall in 2022 with 15 top-10 finishes and four top-fives. However, he missed the playoffs after Austin Dillon won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 and took his spot in the 16-driver field. 2023 will provide him with the opportunity to break the winless streak and get back in the playoffs.

Harvick Has Previously Discussed His Future

Kevin Harvick

GettyKevin Harvick (left) & Martin Truex Jr. (right) both face contract questions.

Harvick, the 2014 Cup Series champion, has faced multiple questions about his future over the past calendar year. One of the first instances was a December 2021 appearance on “The Dale Jr. Download” when he explained that the upcoming broadcast deal played a role in his decision to race through 2023.

Another factor was the ability to play a role in conversations about the Next Gen car, the schedule, and other important topics. Retiring after 2021 or 2022 would have put him “in a weird window.”

One of the other important factors was the return of Harvick’s crew chief. Rodney Childers signed a multi-year extension during the 2021 season, which ensured that he would remain part of the No. 4 team at Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick acknowledged to Dale Earnhardt Jr. that he would have contemplated retirement if Childers had not inked this deal.

Will Harvick retire after the 2023 season? His contract only runs through the season finale at Phoenix Raceway, so that is a possibility. Though the situation could ultimately change if he wins more races in 2023 or if the key members of his team stick around for future seasons.

“I like where I race. I like Stewart-Haas Racing,” Harvick said in an April press release from SHR. “I like the atmosphere. I like the people here. That’s really the biggest reason that I like to do it, especially this year,” Harvick explained in the release from SHR. “You’re with a group of people where you’re constantly problem-solving. You’re trying to fix it faster than everybody else and come to something that is better than everybody else so you can win races.

“I like the core group of guys that I started here with. That’s why they all came here, and I guess I would feel like I’m abandoning them if I didn’t go a couple more years. For me, I still enjoy that challenge. I enjoy where this series is, and learning about the new car is not a bad thing to do as you go forward into the future and do something different.”


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