Dale Earnhardt Inc. to re-sign Truex with 2-year deal, sources say

Updated: July 28, 2008, 3:55 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Martin Truex Jr., who has been speculated as a candidate for every driver opening in the Sprint Cup garage, isn't going anywhere.

The 28-year-old New Jersey native has agreed in principle to a two-year deal that will keep him at Dale Earnhardt Inc. through the 2010 season, multiple sources close to the situation told ESPN.com on Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Truex
Truex
Sources said an official announcement is expected any day, and that details with multiple sponsors remain to be finalized.

Truex, asked if he has an agreement, said: "We're getting there, yeah. Things are going well right now. I'm pretty happy. I just want to think about racing this weekend."

Later, he denied a deal is complete, telling The Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service: "It's [expletive]. I don't know what the hell [the reporter] is talking about. He doesn't know what he's talking about."

The deal ends speculation that Truex will leave the company he has been with since making the move from Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Nationwide Series team in 2004.

He has been linked most strongly with the No. 12 car at Penske Racing, the No. 4 at Stewart-Haas Racing and the No. 33 at Richard Childress Racing.

The move should strengthen DEI's position in the sport after more than a year of gloom-and-doom predictions following Earnhardt's announcement he was leaving for Hendrick Motorsports.

The organization also is negotiating a long-term deal to keep Paul Menard, who has improved from 34th in the point standings last season to 26th.

Max Siegel, the president of global operations at DEI, would not comment on negotiations. But Siegel has been emphatic that Truex was a driver he wanted to build the company around.

Truex made the championship chase a year ago in only his second full Cup season. The two-time Nationwide champion collected his first Cup win at Dover and finished 11th in the final standings.

He was challenging for one of the 12 playoff spots this season until he received a 150-point penalty after NASCAR officials discovered the roof on his No. 1 Chevrolet was too low during the initial inspection at Daytona.

Without the penalty he would be in 14th place, 83 points out heading into Sunday's race at Indianapolis. Instead he is 17th, 233 out with seven races remaining before the Chase begins.

"It's going to be really tough on me," Truex said two weekends ago at Chicagoland Speedway. "It's going to be tough on all of us, but in the end we'll become a stronger race team."

Truex's commitment to the organization came in question when he didn't acknowledge that the option DEI picked up on his contract for next season was valid. Many with knowledge of the deal insisted he could get out of it.

That increased speculation that Truex would either join Tony Stewart as the second driver at newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing or replace Ryan Newman at Penske Racing.

Siegel and John Story, DEI's vice president of motorsports operations, have spent as much time fighting perception as they have getting Truex re-signed. It didn't help that Mark Martin announced earlier this month that he was leaving his part-time role in the No. 8 for a full-time ride in the No. 5 at Hendrick Motorsports.

"Since Junior left here there has been the perception that we've been struggling as a company," Story recently said. "To a certain extent that's to be expected.

"Fighting perception is very difficult and probably the most frustrating part of the business."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter