There has been much speculation over the last several weeks regarding where Martin Truex Jr. will race in 2010 and beyond. This speculation has been fueled mostly by Truex’s own comments on a possible move, which started at the Talladega race in April. The turmoil surrounding the DEI/CGR merger, and the lack of performance from the EGR teams this season appears to be a big motivator. Since 2008, Truex has been rumored to be leaving DEI/EGR for Dale Jr.’s Cup team (that never materialized), Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing, and most recently Michael Waltrip Racing.
Mike Mulhern was the first to break the news about Truex’s possible defection to MWR, and his story pondered whether the deal was actually already done. Since Mulhern’s article first appeared we’ve heard that the deal isn’t necessarily done but that NAPA is very interested in securing Truex. But there has yet to be an announcement from either side about the future and after talking about it initially, Truex has now become reluctant in answering any media questions regarding MWR and 2010.
Stepping back now from the rumors and speculation, I’m curious about what team would be the best fit for Truex moving forward. I’ve got to believe that a possible move from EGR to MWR would only be driven by a more lucrative contract. I say that because neither team appears to be better then the other in terms of performance and potential. Truex and his teammate, Juan Pablo Montoya, currently sit 19th and 15th in the points, while MWR cars are 11th, 18th, and 32nd respectively. The lone bright spot for MWR and a possible selling point for Truex has been David Reutimann and his Coke 600 win. But the win in a rain shortened 600 on a Monday had more to do with lucky strategy than it did with actual team performance. So jumping from the #1 team at EGR to the #55 team at MWR appears to be a lateral move at best.
The other wildcard in this situation is Truex’s long time sponsor, Bass Pro Shops. There was much talk earlier this season after EGR shut down the #8 team that Bass Pro had an out in its contract if either Truex didn’t have two team cars, or his performance wasn’t up to par. This appears now to be false, and according to press releases from 2007 and EGR’s Steve Lauletta, Bass Pro is signed through 2010. This would certainly rule out the possibility of Bass Pro Shops following Truex to MWR, SHR, or any other team.
Only time will tell where Truex ends up for the 2010 season and beyond, but I’m of the opinion that Truex will indeed jump ship. I feel like he’s had one foot out the door since the walls started crumbling at DEI, and I’m surprised he’s waited until now to possibly make a move. Usually, drivers who aren’t interested in a move to another team don’t become the topic of so many rumors. And if he wasn’t interested in moving, it’s very easy to put down the rumors and speculation and just say “I like where I am, I’m staying.”
On top of that, his performances this season have been less than inspired, and chances of a big contract brought to you by NAPA or possibly a better ride elsewhere may be enough to lure him away.