Martin Truex Jr. Filling Role Of Innocent Bystander
By Mike Harris | Senior Writer
LOUDON, N.H. – Martin Truex Jr. suddenly finds himself in a limbo created by the mistakes of others.
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver turned out to be an innocent victim of the team’s manipulation of the finish at the Richmond race two weeks ago.
The key result of NASCAR coming down hard on the Waltrip team was the announcement this week that NAPA, a longtime sponsor with the team, is leaving at the end of the season, aborting a big dollar contract that was to run through the end of 2015.
Worse, NAPA was that rarity, a majority sponsor for all 36 Sprint Cup races.
The upshot is that the No. 56 Toyota, driven by Truex, is without a sponsor for next season and beyond, leaving him uncertain of his racing future.
After qualifying fifth on Friday for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Truex was asked where he stands with MWR for next season.
“I don’t know,’’ he replied. “It’s too early to tell, to be honest with yout. I wish I knew and I wish I could say, but a lot of circumstances have to play out and it’s so late in the game and late in the season.
“People already know what they’re doing next year. This is definitely not the time of year you want to find out that you really don’t have a ride next year, so to speak.’’
Earlier Friday, team boss Waltrip said he’s still hopeful that a sponsor can be found in time to keep Truex. But he also said he would not stand in the way if another ride becomes available in the meantime.
“I’ve enjoyed my four years at MWR,’’ Truex said. “And I feel like we’re getting to where we wanted to be when we started four years ago. This is obviously going to set us back. But I would love to be there. There’s no guarantees right now. It just depends on how everything goes down.’’
Asked about the possibility of moving to another team with NAPA, Truex said, “We do have a great relationship and again, this has happened so fast. Obviously, they’re going to need a little time for the dust to settle and figure out what their next move is. (We’ll) just have to wait, (but) I guess it’s an option, yeah.’’
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