MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Does Martin Truex Jr.’s future lie with Dale Earnhardt Inc., or elsewhere?
Truex is in the third year of his original contract with DEI, a contract that includes an option for 2009 that has been exercised by DEI but still requires approval from Truex.
The upheaval at DEI – including the departure of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the additions of new teammates Mark Martin, Aric Almirola and Regan Smith – and Truex’s slow start to 2008 – he has one top-10 finish in the first six races – have prompted questions about his future.
On Friday at Martinsville Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. said he expected his former teammate would soon face a lot of questions.
“I suspect he’ll have a difficult year answering this question all year long, as far as what he’s going to do and where he’s going to go. The only thing I can do for him is help him with that. He probably don’t need my help, though, he’s pretty focused,” Earnhardt Jr. said.
Asked how he would approach discussions about his future, Truex said, “I haven’t gone down that road yet. I’m just focused on winning right now with my team and giving these guys everything I have.
“We haven’t performed the way we expected to so far. We’ve been OK. We’ve been pretty good at places but when we’ve been good, it’s been sixth- to seventh-place cars.
"We have a little bit of work to do.”
In recent weeks, speculation has mounted regarding the possibility of Truex one day joining Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick is already at NASCAR four-team limit of Sprint Cup teams with drivers Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Casey Mears.
Mears has struggled since his arrival at Hendrickin 2007. He is currently 33rd in points and finished 15th last season with one win, one top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.
“I’m pretty happy where I’m at and working with the guys that are my teammates now. We’ve got a good combination. There is a lot of good chemistry there,” said Earnhardt Jr. after being asked if he could see himself as a teammate with Truex at Hendrick.
“Casey’s struggling. I think everybody knows he’s a better race car driver than he’s been running. I enjoy having him as a teammate.”