Martin Truex Jr. doesn’t mind flying under the radar

Martin Truex Jr. (Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. – Naturally enough, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s bombshell announcement that he will retire from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing at the end of the year shifted focus to the 20-somethings who might take the reigns of the sport.

But that doesn’t mean we should forget the veterans who will still be around.

“I’m only 36,” Martin Truex Jr. said plaintively before leading Friday’s opening practice at Richmond International Raceway with a lap at 124.178 mph. “I don’t feel old, so that’s good. That’s the most important part I guess, but, yeah, there’s definitely a lot of young guys coming up.

“But I feel like I’ve got my best years ahead of me. They can keep talking about who’s retiring and who’s going to fill their shoes, and hopefully I’ll be here to take a bunch of checkered flags home.”

Not that Truex minds staying in the background and winning races for his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team, while relative newcomers such as Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney get the lion’s share of attention.

“I can tell you I don’t mind being that guy,” Truex said of his low profile.

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