BRISTOL, Tenn. — The most striking aspect of Martin Truex Jr.’s question-and-answer session with reporters Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway was that the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion’s status for 2019 is still in limbo.
With the announced departure of sponsor 5-hour Energy, Furniture Row Racing has open inventory on the hood of Truex’s No. 78 Toyota, which also receives support from NASCAR perennial Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats and Auto-Owners Insurance.
Truex is in a contract year and has yet to re-sign with Furniture Row, which in turn has yet to re-up its manufacturer deal with Toyota.
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Asked to estimate the percentage chance he will return to Furniture Row next season, Truex replied:
“That’s hard to put a number on. Honestly, I really don’t know. I think in another week or two I’ll have a better answer for you. Better percentage — right now, we need sponsorship, and that’s as simple as it gets.
“It’s hard to say. Is there a 50 percent chance we get that in a couple weeks or 100 percent chance or 2 percent? I don’t know. I can tell you that everything is based upon that.”
It’s clear, though, that Truex would prefer to remain with team owner Barney Visser and crew chief Cole Pearn, even though rumors of other options already have begun to circulate.
“I’m starting to hear rumors,” Truex acknowledged. “That’s kind of how it works in this sport. I’ve been in this position before. I’ve got a great team — Barney has done a lot for my career.
“It’s something we all want to keep going and just need a little bit of time to let the dominoes fall into place and see if we can keep it going. And, if not, I have to figure it out from there.”