NBC Sports Analyst Predicts Major Bounce-Back for Martin Truex Jr. in 2023

Martin Truex Jr.

Getty Martin Truex Jr. will return for the 2023 season.

The 2022 Cup Series playoffs will take place without Martin Truex Jr. after he missed out on the final spot in the lineup by a mere three points. The playoffs will not feel the same without the perennial championship four contender, but one NBC Sports analyst has predicted a major rebound in 2023.

Steve Letarte made the comments on two different shows. He explained on “NASCAR America Motormouths” and “Backseat Drivers” that there were four races where surprise winners captured their own wins under unique circumstances. He specifically mentioned Alex Bowman and Austin Cindric as two examples. Letarte then made a bold prediction about Truex’s 2023 season.

“I hope that this is a year that [Truex] soon forgets,” Letarte said on August 29. “Because I’m going to make a prediction now that he doesn’t miss the playoffs next year. I think they go into the playoffs, they go deep in the playoffs, and I’m thankful to say that.”

Letarte also made the point that it’s important that Truex is returning for the 2023 season after he considered retirement. The reason is that he doesn’t believe it would be fitting for a former champion to end his career by missing the playoffs.

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The Former Crew Chief Previously Made Another Prediction

Steve Letarte

GettySteve Letarte made a surprising prediction about Martin Truex Jr.

The prevailing belief heading toward the 2022 Cup Series season was that Truex would return to the playoffs. After all, he had just finished up a four-win season when he finished second overall in the championship standings. Truex also had five appearances in the championship four dating back to the 2015 season.

Prior to the season, Letarte turned heads when he made a bold statement about Truex. He said that the 2017 Cup Series champion would miss the playoffs due to the number of young drivers, as well as the changes with the Next Gen car.

“I think the big surprise is I am struggling to put Martin Truex Jr. into the playoffs,” Letarte said during the February 15 episode. “And it comes down to the new car, the approach to the new car. I’ve watched a lot of testing. He hasn’t been in the car testing.”

Letarte continued and said that he hoped Truex proved him wrong and that he wasn’t trying to predict the future. He just did not see the veteran as a “guarantee” to lock himself into the playoffs.


The New Car Led to New Winners

Letarte’s points about the Next Gen car and the young drivers were both ultimately proven correct. There were 16 winners during the regular season, including several that won for the first time in their respective careers.

The season began with Austin Cindric capturing the Daytona 500 in what was his first trip to Victory Lane. Chase Briscoe was the next to join the list by winning at Phoenix Raceway. The other first-time winners include Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick, and Daniel Suarez.

The playoffs will begin with 11 drivers under the age of 30, marking a major change from some previous seasons. These contenders will now move forward and battle for spots in the championship four while Truex strives to snap a winless streak.

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