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Truex to MWR as Waltrip scales back

8 July 2009

Martin Truex Jr. has known for more than six weeks what his plans are for next year.

On Tuesday at Michael Waltrip Racing headquarters, Truex finally got the opportunity to make the official announcement of his move to MWR under a multiyear agreement with the Toyota team, the specific terms of which were not disclosed.

“I'm excited,” said Truex, who will drive the #56 NAPA Camry next season as team owner Michael Waltrip scales back to an abbreviated schedule in the #55 Toyota. “I've been telling y'all for a month and a half that I want to tell you, but I can't.

“It's hard to hold it in. I've been so excited about it — I really have been. I haven't been excited about anything like this for a long time. I feel good about it.”

Concurrent with the Truex announcement, NAPA confirmed a multiyear extension of its sponsorship agreement with MWR. NAPA also will sponsor Waltrip's car in the 2010 Daytona 500. Beyond that, Waltrip, 46, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, hasn't set his schedule for next year but says he could run as many as ten-twelve races depending on sponsorship.

Chances are he will complete in all four restrictor-plate races, two each at Daytona and Talladega.

“As an owner, I knew there would be a time when I wouldn't be a full-time driver anymore, and that time is now,” Waltrip said. “In 2010 I'm going to run a limited schedule, a few races here and there — I'm not really sure exactly how many or where they'll be. I do know, however, that I'm going to do the 52nd running of my favourite race. Thanks to NAPA, I will be racing in the 500 in my NAPA #55.”

The owner points from Waltrip's car will be assigned to Truex's #56 to start the 2010 season. The #55 currently is 31st in owner points. The top 35 cars in owner points at year's end are guaranteed starting spots in the first five races of the following season.

Truex, 29, who drives the #1 Chevrolet for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, expects to remain in his current ride for the rest of the season. Truex recently signed a new contract with team owner Chip Ganassi that specifies precisely that.

“As far as I'm concerned, I will be in that car for the rest of the year,” Truex said. “The conversations that I've had with Chip and everything, we're set to go, unless something drastically changes on their part. But I'm 100 per cent committed.”

After making the Chase in 2007 and finishing 15th in the Sprint Cup standings last year, Truex currently is 24th in points but feels his results aren't indicative of how well he has run this season.

“People in the sport know what they're seeing,” Truex said. “If I was out there running 35th every weekend or 25th every weekend, then they might say, 'Yeah, he ain't got it no more — he's washed up,' or 'He's getting too old.' But I don't (run at the back). When my car's fast, I lead laps and I run up front. It's as simple as that. I know what I can do when my stuff's right.”

Though Waltrip said personnel decisions about Truex's team for next year haven't been made, Truex already is lobbying for his long-time crew chief, Kevin Manion.

“We've had a lot of success together,” Truex said. “I love him, and he's like a brother to me. So I would love to have him over here. I've got a lot of confidence in him. I know he's good. I know he can do the job.

“Obviously, it not my sole decision to make, and we've got to figure out his situation and talk to him and see what he wants and make sure that he thinks this is the right deal for him. … I think it would make it a lot easier for me coming into a new place to have him on my side.”

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News


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