Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Daytona 500 start 'almost a guarantee' for Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr. doesn't know how many races he will run next season as he becomes an ambassador for Joe Gibbs Racing, but he knows that he will pursue one of NASCAR's crown jewels.

"It's almost a guarantee right now, I feel like, that I'll probably run the Daytona 500," Truex said during an appearance on "The Dale Jr. Download" this week. "Which not a done deal yet, but I feel like it shouldn't be too hard to finish that up."

Truex added that he doesn't know what else will be on his schedule next season. This is something he has started discussing.

He expects there will be a few Xfinity Series races and he certainly would like to split a car with his younger brother, Ryan Truex, who has won the last two Xfinity races at Dover Motor Speedway. Truex just doesn't know if it will be three Xfinity races or more.

While Truex doesn't have a contract signed for the Daytona 500, he already has a car promised to him. Current teammate Denny Hamlin, who co-owns 23XI Racing with Michael Jordan, has made it clear that he will field a Cup car for Truex whenever he wants.

"I told him that I will have his Daytona 500 car ready immediately," Hamlin said at Iowa Speedway in June. "Tell me the word. 100%.

"I would 100% do that. ... Any time that Martin gets bored and wants to run Cup, we would have a seat for him for sure."

Hamlin has fielded a third car multiple times since founding 23XI Racing. Kamui Kobayashi drove the No. 67 Toyota at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the No. 50 at Circuit of the Americas. Corey Heim drove the No. 50 at Nashville Superspeedway.

Hamlin also fielded the No. 67 Toyota in the 2023 Daytona 500 so that Travis Pastrana could fulfill his dream of racing in NASCAR's biggest race.

Truex's resume is full of success in NASCAR. He has won two Xfinity championships and a Cup championship. He has won races in all three national series. He has three crown jewels in his collection -- two Coca-Cola 600s and one Southern 500.

One thing missing from the stat sheet is a Daytona 500 win. Truex's closest brush with the biggest win in NASCAR was the 2016 season. He finished second behind Hamlin by 0.01 of a second. This was the closest finish in the history of The Great American Race.

Now he will have another chance to win this race.