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Truex Jr. will stay with Joe Gibbs Racing

LEBANON, Tenn. — It took Martin Truex Jr. only seven words to end the season-long speculation about his future in NASCAR.

“I’m back in the 19 next year,” Truex said at Nashville Superspeedway. A statement from Joe Gibbs Racing was even more brief: “I’m coming back,” was Truex’s attributed quote.

Nice and succinct for the 2017 NASCAR champion, who has never been verbose but particularly short on details as he pondered his future the last several months. His contract with JGR expires at the end of the year, and the most Truex would reveal was that the organization needed a decision from the driver this summer.

“The competitive side of me said I’m not done and I’m going to keep fighting, so here we are,” said Truex, who turns 42 on Wednesday.

Next year will be his 18th season in the Cup Series, and the New Jersey native has 31 career wins and a pair of Xfinity Series titles. He headed into Sunday’s race in Nashville winless on the season but ranked sixth in the standings.

Now that Truex is signed, JGR can turn its full attention to two-time champion Kyle Busch. He’s also in a contract year but JGR needs a sponsor for the No. 18 because longtime partner Mars, Inc. is leaving NASCAR after this season.

With Truex returning, JGR keeps a perpetual title contender. He advanced to NASCAR’s title-deciding championship race in four of the last five seasons, winning his only title in 2017 when he drove for now-defunct Furniture Row Racing. He has finished second in the championship three times since, including last year when he lost to Kyle Larson.

He’s a three-time runner-up since moving to Gibbs in 2018, and he’s won 16 races since joining the organization.

“We’re delighted that our 2017 Cup Champion, partner and friend is back in his Camry TRD for at least another year,” said David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development.

It was unclear what Truex might decide in part because of his own struggles in the new Next Gen stock car, but also JGR’s struggles. The four JGR drivers — Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Truex — have a combined three wins. Bell and Truex have yet to reach victory lane.

“I think as we all continue to learn and grow, the good teams will be the good teams everywhere,” Busch said. “But you know, it is kind of patchy, right now with just getting an understanding built around this car.”

The struggle in performance had bothered Truex, who only has seven top-10 finishes through 16 races.

“I don’t like not running good,” Truex said. “I’m here to win. I feel like everybody is working really, really hard right now. It’s an up-and-down sport. I’ve been a lot worse off than this before. We’re sitting in a good spot in points … but I feel like we’re getting closer and we’ll keep doing all we can.”

Allgaier dominates

LEBANON, Tenn. — Justin Allgaier routed the field at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday for his second Xfinity Series victory of the season.

The JR Motorsports driver led 134 of the 188 laps in his Chevrolet and beat Trevor Bayne by 4.513-seconds on a hot, steamy afternoon in which in-car temperatures inched toward 130 degrees.

“That was a butt-kicking,” Allgaier radioed his team. “Thank you guys so much, it never gets old.”

He said he can’t recall a time he’s had such a dominant race car, and was glad to have it at Nashville. It was his eighth career Xfinity Series start at Nashville and first time Allgaier collected the winner’s celebratory custom guitar.

“I’ve been coming here a long time and I love this racetrack, and I’ve been trying to get to victory lane so bad and haven’t been able to do it,” said Allgaier, who dedicated the performance to “the dirt racers because it was slick. It was hot, we were sliding around.”

Allgaier dedicated the win to his father, who he said has been suffering from health complications.

Points lead shifts

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Filipe Albuquerque gave Wayne Taylor Racing its third consecutive IMSA sports car victory by holding off rival Acura team Meyer Shank Racing in the six-hour endurance race Sunday at Watkins Glen International.

The race was red-flagged for an hour because of a lightning strike near the track and IMSA returned under a yellow flag with 35 minutes remaining. The green waved with 20 minutes to go and Albuquerque used an aggressive restart to snatch the lead from Tom Blomqvist of Shank.

The two were in a spirited battle until the final five minutes, when Sebastien Bourdais in a Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing made a run on Blomqvist. The two were battling for second on the final lap but Bourdais had to bail out on an attempted pass because of lapped traffic clogging the track ahead.

Salinas wins

NORWALK, Ohio — Mike Salinas won the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on Sunday to take the Top Fuel points lead from Brittany Force.

Salinas won for the fourth time this season and seventh overall, beating Josh Hart in the final with a 3.706-second run at a track-record 333.58 mph.

“It’s amazing,” Salinas said. “(Crew chief) Rob Flynn brought a calmness to this team, and everyone has a voice. I think that is unprecedented and that’s been pretty awesome. We’ve earned the right to be out here and race against these guys, and we belong here. It’s a good thing because we’ve got a great team and I’m learning how to drive.”

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