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Motorsports 101 Debate: Should Martin Truex Jr Leave Michael Waltrip Racing?September 25th, 2013 at 10:45 AM
By Mark Eddinger
Last week NAPA Auto Parts, the full time sponsor for Martin Truex Jr at Michael Waltrip Racing, announced it would leave the team at the end the 2013 season in the wake of the Chase scandal. Now Martin Truex Jr is left to debate weather he should stay at the team with an uncertain sponsor situation moving forward or go to another NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team. Michael Waltrip has given his support to whatever Truex decides so Motorsports 101 debates whether Truex should stay or go.
Go! – By Clayton Caldwell
NAPA Auto Parts will leave Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of the 2013 season. That fact could leave Martin Truex Jr without a ride for 2014. Truex is under contract with the team for the next two seasons, but that contract was with NAPA, who will not be back.
NAPA has been rumored to go to many places in 2014 including Joe Gibbs Racing, Penske Racing Richard Childress Racing, and Roush-Fenway Racing. I believe NAPA will definitely be a sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series in 2014 and that they will go to a better race team than Michael Waltrip Racing.
Michael Waltrip Racing is considered a good race team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, however, there is still a lot of teams that are considered better. If Truex goes to Joe Gibbs Racing, Spingate would actually be a blessing for him. He would move from Michael Waltrip Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing who has been one of the best teams in NASCAR.
While Joe Gibbs has completely denied any interest in Truex it all depends on what NAPA does. If NAPA wants to go to another team without Truex, I’d say stay, however I feel that is unlikely considering Truex is the face of NAPA Auto Parts and they know what they’re getting in Truex. If NAPA does sponsor another driver and not Truex, Truex would most likely look to stay or go to Furniture Row Racing and in that case I would tell him to stay, just because he is familiar with the team.
However, I believe there is a team out there that is willing to expand. Maybe an organization like Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing wants to expand to three cars and using the money from NAPA expansion to a three car team could be possible and really make them a force. We’ll see. However, the driver lineup to replace Truex is very thin. Truex would be the best driver available by far which makes me think NAPA would want him to come with them wherever they decide to go.
Truex has a lot of decisions in front of him and with the bad reputation that Michael Waltrip Racing has had in the last few seasons it might not be a bad idea to leave. There will also be a lot of distractions with the team if he stays. Everyone will ask about Spingate and how the team can rebound and whether there is a rift between him and Bowyer. That stuff could cost Truex a Chase spot and would be aggravating to deal with. Something he wouldn’t experience on other teams.
All in all, Truex would be better leaving. He has a big time sponsor behind him if the sponsor decides to go that way and it would benefit him from a competition standpoint to leave.
Stay! – By Mark Eddinger
The worst part about the events that occurred at Richmond International Raceway is that Martin Truex Jr now has to feel the effects for way longer than just missing the 2013 Chase. He has every right to be upset at Michael Waltrip Racing and look at other options.
The thing is can Truex really find another team that he can be more competitive at than he already is at MWR? It certainly will be hard to find.
The only Chase caliber ride right now with an open seat for 2014 is Furniture Row Racing. The team also still has a lot to prove as being legitimate contenders on a weekly basis. Yes, they have had a great 2013 but that is with a championship caliber driver like Kurt Busch behind the wheel. Truex is good but not championship caliber.
Another top tier team would need to expand their operation to make room for Truex. Penske Racing seems happy with two cars and would want to put Sam Hornish Jr in a third car if they would expand. Joe Gibbs Racing certainly seems like it can be a four-car team but they have said that expanding to three cars from two was tough and don't seem like they want to stretch their resources. Roush-Fenway Racing's problem has always been sponsorship so finding something for Truex would be tough. Richard Childress Racing is already in a state of flux for 2014 as they will have only one returning driver in Paul Menard and two new drivers with Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman. Will they want to have a fourth team when they haven't been that competitive with three lately?
Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing seems like a stretch since Truex left that team after 2009 to go to greener pastures at MWR.
A lot of this is going to depend on where NAPA Auto Parts goes or if they leave NASCAR altogether. But would NAPA really want to have Truex as their driver still? Truex only has two career wins in 289 Sprint Cup starts. In 136 starts with NAPA at Michael Waltrip Racing Truex only has one win and that came this season at Sonoma Raceway. For NAPA it would make more sense to find a young up and coming driver and maybe sponsor them in lower series until they work their way up to Cup. Maybe a Chase Elliott or Ty Dillon.
If a top tier ride, like Joe Gibbs Racing, does not come Truex's way he should stay at MWR. He is at one of the top seven organizations in the garage and is with a team that can threaten to have all three of its teams in Chase contention each year. He has two years left on his contract with MWR. Whether Michael Waltrip Racing will be able to attract a sponsor for Truex's car is a major issue but MWR will have to run Truex out of their own pocket if necessary.
They will not throw Truex aside after what they already have done to his career. In fact they owe Truex a lot and should be determined to put the best possible cars on the track for him. Truex can still contend for wins and a Chase spot at Michael Waltrip Racing moving forward and that is something he should not leave.
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