Photo credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Brad Keselowski: Martin Truex Jr. 'will be missed'

Martin Truex Jr. announcing that he will retire from full-time competition means that there will be one fewer NASCAR champion in the garage, a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by his peers.

"I'm sad to see him go and I'm kind of reminded that life is about change," Brad Keselowski said Friday at Iowa Speedway. "It's not always fun change, but it's tough seeing any champion leave this sport, but we wish him the best in his next endeavors."

Keselowski, the 2012 Cup champion, spent decades racing against Truex. They faced off in the Xfinity Series and they battled with each other numerous times in pursuit of Cup Series wins and championships.

Keselowski was the dominant driver during the 2012 season. He won five races for Team Penske and the championship. Truex, who raced for Michael Waltrip Racing that season, posted 19 top-10 finishes but went winless. He ended the season 11th in the Cup standings.

It was Truex who had the advantage in 2017 as he won eight races and the championship. This was part of a seven-year run in which he won at least one race each season. Keselowski won three races in 2017 before finishing fourth in the championship standings.

"He's a little bit of a throwback in the sense that Martin is one of those guys that I thought was really good at taking care of his equipment and being there when it mattered," Keselowski added.

"So with each one of these drivers that goes away it's kind of the end of its own little era. Martin was probably one of the last of the drivers that had chill to him."

The other reason Truex is a throwback driver, as Keselowski's teammate explained, is the way he raced his competitors.

He was not someone who willingly moved drivers out of the way with his bumper or made unnecessary contact. Instead, Truex just used speed and skills behind the wheel to beat other drivers. He dominated many of his races, such as the 2016 Coca-Cola 600 when he led 392 of the 400 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Photo credit: Getty Images

"Like Brad said, he's been a lot of fun to race with, a very respectable racer that I've been able to have good, clean battles (with) through the years consistently," Chris Buescher said.

With Truex walking away from full-time competition, there is now limited time remaining for Buescher and Keselowski to face off with him on the track. Only 20 races remain before the checkered flag waves on the 2024 season.

Yes, there will potentially be future races featuring Truex. He indicated during his press conference at Iowa Speedway that he would be open to one-off starts in the future. The Daytona 500 remains a possibility.

For now, Truex's peers will simply have to embrace the remaining opportunities they have to race door-to-door with a man who won two Xfinity championships and a Cup championship while quietly going about his business.

"I've got a lot of respect for (Truex) and I don't know what his next chapter is -- maybe he doesn't know either -- but that's OK," Keselowski said. "He'll be missed in our sport."