What’s the truth about Truex?
A reporter from that famous 4-letter network put out a story Saturday saying that Martin Truex, Jr. had agreed in principle to a 2-year deal to stay with Dale Earnhardt, Inc., according to “multiple sources” close to the deal.
But hold the phone. When asked about that topic, Truex angrily retorted: “It’s (expletive). I don’t know what the hell … he’s talking about.”
So what’s the truth? Usually, when something like this breaks and is denied, there is at least a nugget of truth to it. The problem comes when a reporter takes the leap and publishes a story without knowing for sure it’s true. I can almost guarantee you Truex is negotiating with DEI, as they desperately need him to stay if they want to compete next year. And maybe progress has been made on a contract, and one will be signed shortly.
But unless you are absolutely, 100 percent sure that Truex is staying and has already made the commitment, it’s pretty irresponsible to come out and say it in such strong terms. To say he “isn’t going anywhere,” when you really don’t know that, is pretty bad.
So what do I think is going to happen in the end? I’ve said all along that Truex will leave the sinking ship that is DEI, but the more time goes by, the more likely it is he will stay. The more money you dangle in front of a driver, the harder it is for him to walk away, and you can bet DEI is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at their only marketable driver to get him to stay.
New car, new fight for Stewart
Tony Stewart has had a busy week --- unveiling his 2009 paint schemes and professing his joy that he will be driving Chevys again, then getting into a scrap with a USAC official Thursday night. The No. 14 will be co-sponsored by Old Spice and Office Depot, and looks pretty sharp.
The altercation happened when Tracy Hines, who drives one of Stewart’s USAC National Midget cars, was stuck on pit lane and it took too long for Stewart’s liking for a push truck to help Hines get going and back in the race. In confronting the USAC official, he apparently knocked a headset from the official’s head and then shoved him. Afterward, Stewart said he expected to be fined, but was still angry about how his driver was treated.
Between reporters, fellow drivers and officials, Stewart probably has a higher fight-per-year ratio than any other driver over the past decade. But as I’ve said before, that’s part of why I like him. He is passionate about racing, and the drivers who work for him, and was just standing up for Hines. He went too far this time, but you have to admire his spirit.
Rusty Wallace vs. Ryan Newman
As a driver, Rusty Wallace was kind of like Tony Stewart is now -- he often opened his mouth and said things that made a lot of people angry. Now an announcer and team owner, he’s up to his old tricks, angering Ryan Newman by publicly saying that Newman was fired by Roger Penske and the split was not agreed upon as Newman said. Rusty apparently talks to Penske regularly, and decided to reveal what Penske allegedly told him about what really happened.
Newman and Rusty never got along as teammates, so it’s possible Rusty’s lying. But I believe him on this one. Rusty said Penske was upset that Ryan was complaining publicly about how bad his cars have been this year, and decided that if Newman was going to call the cars junk he might as well not drive them. From what I know of Penske, this sounds like a move he would make. You do not go up to a man of his stature in the racing and business world and tell him he’s doing a crappy job. Jeremy Mayfield made similar comments in the past, and he saw a similar fate. Newman still insists it was his decision to leave at the end of this season, but I think his ego is just bruised and he won’t publicly admit the truth.
McMurray the odd man out
As I’ve long suspected, Jamie McMurray’s days at Roush Racing are likely numbered. After 2009, Roush must trim to four teams, and he came out this weekend saying that no one is going to take Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, Carl Edwards or Greg Biffle away from him. McMurray’s name was curiously missing, and Roush has been critical of his lackluster results this season compared to all of his teammates.
There are a variety of rumors out there -- McMurray going to the fourth Childress team; McMurray staying at Roush next year , then moving to Roush satellite team Yates Racing in 2010; and others. I can’t tell you which one will come true, but I can tell you what I‘ve known for a long time -- the Roush-McMurray marriage didn‘t work out and will soon be over, as soon as the end of this year.
As I predicted, the weekend got off to a great start with the races at the track formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park. Friday night’s Truck race featured a battle for the ages all night between Michigan native Johnny Benson and Ron Hornaday. Benson ended up getting the win, after Hornaday dominated early, but the excellent short-track side-by-side racing was a great way to get the weekend started. In my dream world, the Cup guys would race on more of these kinds of short tracks and less of the cookie-cutter bigger tracks. It’ll never happen with the big business NASCAR has become, where bigger is always better, but I can always dream.
Saturday night brought the Nationwide cars to the track, and Kyle Busch gave a big middle finger to the NASCAR bigwigs who tried to slow him and his fellow Toyota drivers down with the rule change this week, leading all but 3 laps. Really though, the change didn’t matter this week and won’t be noticeable until the cars return to bigger tracks. Behind the Kyle domination, there was awesome racing all night, with youngsters like Josh Wise, Cale Gale and Landon Cassill racing each other hard all night and getting some of their best career finishes.
The best performance of the night, though, goes to Carl Edwards. Normally I bash the Cup guys who double-dip, but the show he put on Saturday was awesome. After going down 3 laps due to a major mechanical problem, Edwards raced hard with leader Kyle Busch (the only person to do so all night) and caught enough cautions to get back on the lead lap near the end of the race. Restarting in 24th with less than 20 laps to go, he got up to 11th place by the end of the race. It was truly a sight to see, and he might have challenged Busch if the race had been 50 laps longer.
Goodyear appears to have missed the boat again, as the tires at Indy are showing extreme wear, many showing cords after just 11 laps of practice at the Brickyard. As a result, 10 sets of tires are being given to each team for raceday. Look for a ton of pit stops, which could affect the outcome of the race. Pit crew performance could very well decide the winner.