this week in nascar

by Monte Dutton

Truex Jr. Still Running Hard

LONG POND, Pa. — Martin Truex Jr. is faced with a balancing act. He wants to make the best of his remaining time at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, even as he prepares for a new ride in 2010. Truex, 29, won a race in Dover, Del., in June 2007 and made the Chase for the Sprint Cup that same year. He slumped to 15 th in the 2008 standings and is out of contention this year. Next year he will move to Michael Waltrip Racing, which he sees as a fresh start after four full-time seasons at the team known as Dale Earnhardt Inc. prior to this year. “I don’t want it easy,” said Truex. “I want to ‘do good.’ I want to get to the next level. I am not here for it to be easy. That had no bearing at all on my decision.” The Mayetta, NJ native’s father, Martin Truex Sr., was a driver of note himself, having competed for many years in what is now the NASCAR Grand National Series, East Division. Truex Jr. won the championships of what is now the Nationwide Series in 2004-05. By making the move to MWR, Truex will be moving from Chevrolet to Toyota. David Reutimann drove one of the team’s Camrys to victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 25. “They seem like a great organization,” said Truex of MWR. “They have come a long way. I think they have a lot going for them.”

The move was announced on July 7. Truex will drive car No. 56, and though he is effectively replacing owner Waltrip behind the wheel, Waltrip will retain his No. 55 for selected races in 2010.

“It’s about the overall, the big picture,” said Truex. “It’s about all the things that we have to do as drivers and where I want to be as a driver. That’s what went into the decision.” This is Truex’s fourth full season at what is now EGR. He said leaving the team — now owned by Teresa Earnhardt, Chip Ganassi and Sabates — wasn’t a move he took lightly. “It was more about what was best in the long run and the pros and cons of each situation, not so much just what my gut feeling was,” said Truex. “I just kind of took more of a methodical approach to it, and I think it’s working out really well.” Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for the Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008. His blog NASCAR This Week ( features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at Copyright 2009 King Features Syndicate