Four years ago Martin Truex Jr. left Dale Earnhardt Incorporated for Michael Waltrip Racing in the hopes of transforming a struggling organization into a proverbial championship contender.
Despite achieving mediocre results in their first three seasons together, Truex Jr exercised a tremendous amount of patience eagerly anticipating that coveted breakout season. Heading into the 2013 season expectations were at an all-time high for the driver of the #56 Napa Toyota. This was going to be Martin Truex Jr’s year. A year when he would finally snap that dreadful five year winless drought, a year when he would not only qualify for the chase, but become a force to be reckon with on the NSCS tour. Yes, all the pieces were in place for Martin Truex Jr to duplicate the success his MWR teammate Clint Bowyer achieved in 2012. Ironically Bowyer would have a profound impact on the final outcome of Martin Truex Jr’s 2013 season.
On the night of September 7th 2013 controversy permeated through Richmond International Raceway. In the dying laps of the Federated Auto Parts 400 Martin Truex Jr’s aspirations of making this season’s chase were rapidly fading, as Truex Jr’s closest competition in the standings Ryan Newman lead the race. Newman appeared to be on his way to certain victory and in the process securing that coveted 12th position in the chase, until what will forever be known as the spin occurred subsequently snatching it all away from the rocket man.
Immediately following the conclusion of the Richmond race speculation circulated throughout numerous media outlets that MWR intentionally compromised the outcome of the race as a defense mechanisms to protect Truex Jr’s position in the 12 driver chase.
Clint Bowyer’s despicable tactics disgraced MWR’s reputation eternally casting a dark shadow over NASCAR. Unfortunately Truex Jr would be victimized by his teammate’s error in judgement. In the days following that infamous spin, Truex Jr’s world came crumbling down. After NASCAR carefully reviewed the spin, Truex Jr was booted from the chase. But the free fall didn’t end there. Long-time MWR supporter Napa auto parts decided to cut ties with it’s favorite organization following the conclusion of the 2013 campaign. With his future hanging in the balance Martin Truex Jr would officially be released from his MWR contract in mid-October. A season that once looked promising was now lost.
Martin Truex Jr’s positive outlook on a series of unfortunate circumstances paid off as Furniture Row Racing would come to his rescue. Barney Visser’s single car operation out of Colorado hopes Martin Truex Jr can emulate the success Kurt Busch enjoyed behind the wheel of their Chevrolets in 2014. Although some may see this as a risky move for Truex Jr, I think it stands to benefit both parties over an extended period of time. So, what if Truex Jr doesn’t possess the skill set of a Kurt Busch, he’s a capable wheel man who can get it done on any given Sunday. Martin’s strongest attribute is his patient nature. After all he waited five years to earn his second career NSCS victory after coming ever so close on several occasions in 2012. Expect slow progress from this bunch in 2014, as time passes and adjustments are made they just may surprise us all.
Final grade C