Re-signing of Truex critical to future health of Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Should Martin Truex Jr. re-sign with Dale Earnhardt Inc. or should he test the free-agent market? One thing is certain: If he leaves his current employer, DEI is in big trouble, writes Marty Smith.
Updated: June 18, 2008, 11:45 AM ETBy Marty Smith | ESPN.com
Well, folks, Rick Reilly has arrived at ESPN.com. Aside from The Sports Guy, the rest of us can go on and pack our bags. We are officially irrelevant.Marty, I'm a huge, and very frustrated, Martin Truex Jr. fan. What are your thoughts on Martin as a driver? I don't think he's getting the equipment he needs to win. DEI needs to give him better cars so he can show his talent and run better and win. He's as good as anyone out there, Marty. If he was in Jimmie Johnson's car he'd be a champion, too.-- Matthew Fitzgerald, Long Beach Island, N.J.Truex is supremely talented, Matthew. In fact, I consider him the most underrated driver in the sport right now, with a smooth, calculated style that's easy on equipment and cautiously aggressive. He's a lot like my man Davey Allison was, both in talent and demeanor. (Note to Sammy from Tallapoosa, Ala., who invariably gives me lip for writing about Allison: Get over it, dude. I'll be writing about Davey for the rest of my career.)
I disagree, though, that Truex's equipment is inferior. It's good equipment. That's not to say DEI isn't behind Gibbs, Roush and Hendrick, however, because it is. Most teams are. DEI simply doesn't have the budget to research and develop new pieces and parts and technologies and strategies the way those teams do. DEI isn't alone in that regard, either. And the rich are only getting richer. It's not easy. NASCAR is a big-picture equation. Studying a single variable rarely offers a means to an end. Looking solely at DEI for answers won't produce many -- if any. The big question is: Would Truex be better at, say, Penske? Maybe. It's impossible to know. He has great chemistry with crew chief Kevin Manion right where he is. That's a huge variable to anyone's progress. He also has solid sponsorship backing at DEI. That's huge, too. One thing is certain: It is imperative that DEI re-sign Truex. He is crucial to the future stability of the company. If he leaves, it's big trouble. And don't forget, one major reason he's there now is his allegiance to Dale Earnhardt Jr.Hey Marty, What do you think of Red Bull Racing's chances to be a successful team in the near or far future with Brian Vickers, A.J. Allmendinger and Scott Speed? I mean, those cars are sick and they need to win to get some air time.-- Greg, Pottsville, Pa.I'm thoroughly impressed with Team Red Bull, Greg, to say the least. When Red Bull first hit the racetrack in 2007, it was hard to get a read on the team. I felt like Vickers had lost his mind for leaving Hendrick Motorsports for a start-up, and I didn't know A.J. Allmendinger from Adam.Several variables have improved the organization this year, but the most glaring difference is Jay Frye. Frye, the former GM of MB2 Motorsports (then Ginn Racing before that debacle fell apart), has infused Red Bull with a NASCAR racer's commonsense mentality that wasn't there before his arrival. Frye's experience in doing more with less has been critical."It always starts from the top down, but there's been a lot of other people," Vickers said. "[Frye] has been a large part of it, but I don't want to give him all the credit. There's a lot of people that have come on board and a lot of great people that are still there from last year that just have not been able do what they wanted to do.
AP Photo/Russ HamiltonWith four top-10s in 2008, Martin Truex Jr. is sitting 16th in the Cup driver standings.
with Marty Smith
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