Saturday, July 18, 2009

Martin Truex Jr.: Step Forward or Step Backward?

Earlier this week Michael Waltrip Racing announced that they were bringing Martin Truex Jr. on board to take over the full-time NAPA ride from Michael Waltrip himself. This was really the first big announcement regarding driver movement this season. With the economy being the way it is, the Silly Season has been a bit slower in developing this year.

Truex will drive the #56 NAPA Toyota while Waltrip will cut back to a part-time schedule in 2010. The reason for the number switch is that MWR asked for some input from Truex and he asked to drive the #56. This was a similar situation to what Dale Earnhardt Jr. did when he moved over to Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. The #56 is to the Truex family what the #88 is to the Earnhardt family. Also, Waltrip will be able to remain in the #55 in the races that he does run next season.

The question is, however, will moving to MWR be a move up or a move down for Truex? There are a couple of different scenarios that could be looked at here. MWR has developed some top notch equipment in the past couple of years and now have the cars capable to run up front with the leaders. However, the same thing was said about Earnhardt Jr. as he moved to Hendrick. So, obviously the equipment isn't everything.

The other way to look at this is that Truex will be moving to a team that has never been together before. This may not be as much as a factor because the organization is established for awhile, not one that is just getting up off of the ground.

In a poll on, 72% of fans think Truex will not make the Chase next season. This was a bit surprising considering that a driver that has previously been in the Chase is teaming up with an organization that has a car in contention for a Chase spot this season.

Overall, this is probably a smart career move for Truex. He obviously was not making any moves forward in the #1 car and the entire EGR organization is facing some hard times as the group has consistently downsized from four cars to the current two in just over one year. For Truex's sake, hopefully this works and he can find himself back up at the front of the pack in 2010 and beyond.


  1. I agree with you, MWR appear to be on the up while DEI and Ganassi haven't really done a whole lot lately.

  2. tezgm99 - It's too bad for the DEI group that Mark Martin didn't come back full time when he was there. A team with Martin and Montoya would almost have to be strong. They are two championship caliber drivers. Thanks!

  3. I think it's a step UP for Truex. If you had asked me at the beginning of the season, I'd have said it was a step down. MWR seems to have ironed out its kinks and is drastically improved. Because Truex will be in the #56, Waltrip will get to keep the owners' points for the #55 for the first five races of next season. Truex typically qualifies well, so there should be little problem getting into the field.

  4. jon_464 - It is amazing how much difference a year makes. Last year it looked like MWR would always be a second tier team, but now it looks like they could possibly put two cars in the Chase next season, and Ambrose only continues to improve. By way of miracle they could even have three. That would be crazy. Thanks!