Martin Truex Jr: Guilty by Association at Michael Waltrip Racing
He didn’t know anything about it. He was just driving hard, doing the best that he could. However, in the process, all the finger pointing has been at him. He had to give up his shot at the championship and now has no sponsor for 2014.
Folks, you know who I am talking about unless you found a rock to live under for the past two weeks. Welcome to the life of Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr. entered the final race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup, looking to lock himself in position. He knew what was at stake; that’s why he was running in the top five in the closing laps. When the race was over, he thought he did what he needed without fault as he was announced as one of the top 12 drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He got his photo taken with the trophy, did the interviews. Only did it occur hours after that what had happened.
His teammates had done carefully things to “manipulate” things to help their teammate out. Truex knew of Clint Bowyer spinning with 19 laps to go, but didn’t know it was on purpose or the words of Bowyer’s crew chief Brian Pattie. “Is your arm starting to hurt? I bet it’s getting hot in there. Itch it.” He also didn’t know that Bowyer made a suspicious pit stop after the field went back to green.
He also didn’t know that Brian Vickers pitted due to suspicious conversation with MWR Competition Director Ty Norris.
On Lap 396 Vickers is told he’s got to pit and he replies, “I’ve got to WHAT?”
“We’re probably going to pit here on green.”
“Are you talking to me?”
“Yeah, we’re going to pit.”
“”What? I’ve got to pit?”
“I don’t understand. Pit right now?”
“You’ve got to pit this time. We need that 1 point.”
“10-4. Do I got a tire going down?”
“Yeah. Come down pit road right now, get a good look at it.”
(After he pits) “Did you find anything?”
“I’ll see you after the race, Brian, I owe you a kiss.”
Due to their actions and not any of those by Martin Truex Jr., Truex was removed from the Chase. Bowyer was assessed the same points penalty that Truex got, but it didn’t affect his championship chances at all.
In the weeks that have followed, NAPA made the announcement now that they will not sponsor Truex in 2014.
“After thorough consideration, NAPA has made the difficult decision to end its sponsorship arrangement with Michael Waltrip Racing effective December 31, 2013,” NAPA posted on their facebook page. “NAPA believes in fair play and does not condone actions such as those that led to the penalties assessed by NASCAR. We remain supportive of the millions of NASCAR fans and will evaluate our future position in motorsports.”
Due to actions of his teammates, he lost his sponsor. Aaron’s has announced they’re sticking with Vickers, while 5-Hour Energy hasn’t announced their decision on what to do regards to their sponsorship with Clint Bowyer.
The bottom line is this: Martin Truex Jr. is guilty by association. In his own actions alone, he’s innocent. He was just doing his job while the world was falling apart around him.
In the end, Clint Bowyer took no effect for his moves as the points didn’t affect his championship chances. He gets to go along with life as he would have normally. How is that fair?
Brian Vickers isn’t going for the driver’s title this year, but he has a sponsor for this year. So for his part, he gets no penalties in the end. How is that fair?
It’s not fair.
The only way for Truex to even find his way out of this would be leave to MWR and get himself away from the mess. Let’s face it – this is not the first time MWR has cheated. Anybody remember the jet fuel in their first race? There are quality rides open, including the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing car as well as the No. 42 at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. If Truex wants any dignity over this whole situation, his best bet may be to jump at one of those opportunies. If not, his team gets tarnished in the process of other people’s actions.