So Martin Truex, Jr. is officially going to be in a Michael Waltrip Racing car next year. I have to admit that I doubted this rumor up until a few weeks ago. It just didn’t feel right to me for some reason, but I can’t put my finger on why.
I guess maybe I just wanted Truex to go to Stewart-Haas Racing next year. But with Mark Martin deciding to run a full time schedule in 2010, the option for a third car at SHR was pretty much locked up by Brad Keselowski. Granted, this still isn’t a certainty, because they have to find sponsorship. But I believe if a sponsorship opportunity falls their way that Keselowski will be in that third car.
The press conference today caused the first real domino to fall in the 2009 Silly Season, and I am watching with great interest to see what kind of pattern the trail makes as the rest of the dominos go down. There aren’t a lot of openings, and there are still a lot of sponsorship questions that haven’t been answered. So what will happen next?
Ever since the Truex to MWR news really solidified, there has been talk that he would leave early. Perhaps that talk comes from rumors that Aric Almirola is getting ready to get back in an Earnhardt Ganassi Racing car sometime in the near future. Personally, I think Truex will stick out his contract with EGR. But it is definitely in EGR’s best interest to get Almirola behind the wheel of a Cup car again, because I believe he will be Truex’s successor in the #1 car.
There are still a few unanswered questions regarding Truex’s move to MWR, including the naming of his crew chief. Bootie Barker is the current crew chief for Michael Waltrip in the #55 car, but in the press conference Waltrip talked like he wanted to keep his current team in place for his part-time driving role. So will the #1 crew chief, Kevin ‘Bono’ Manion, make the move over with his current driver? And where will the Bass Pro Shop sponsorship go?
I am guessing that we will know the answers to those questions soon. I expect that EGR will not waste a lot of time in deciding what they will do with the #1 car, crew, and sponsor. Word on the street has Bass Pro going over to Ryan Newman, but I don’t know how much of that is just speculation – since Newman, like Truex, is an avid fisherman and would be a good spokesperson for that sponsor.
So will there still be some surprises left in the Silly Season of 2009? Yes, I think that is a definite possibility. The move by Truex wasn’t entirely unexpected, but I think there is still room for some unplanned shifting in driver rosters and sponsorship. Not to mention that there are still several manufacturer changes in the rumor mill. Let the soap opera begin.