First, ESPN.com reported over the weekend at Indianapolis that Martin Truex Jr. had signed a two-year contract extension with Dale Earnhardt Inc., which would keep him with the company through the 2010 season.
Then, Truex angrily denied the story, telling The Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service, "That's [expletive]. I don't know what the hell [the reporter] is talking about."
Yet ESPN.com still reports the extension is all but done. Is this a case of shoddy journalism, or does David Newton have something from a reliable source to which the rest of us aren't privy? Truex's denial doesn't really mean that much to me, since people make public denials all the time ... only to have the story they denied turn out to be true anyway.
Right, Roger Clemens?
Assuming the report is true, and that Truex is indeed staying at DEI ... sad as this might sound (and anyone who's read this blog knows how I feel about DEI), this was probably the best Truex could do, given the circumstances. Truex had been rumored to be moving to the No. 12 at Penske Racing, the new No. 33 at Richard Childress Racing, and even a possible third car at Stewart-Haas, but at the end of the day, the best Truex could've likely hoped for was a lateral move.
The No. 12 isn't the premiere ride it was when Newman broke into Sprint Cup, winning 12 races in his first four full seasons. Penske's equipment is lagging behind, much like DEI's.
Stewart-Haas might be competitive and successful in a few seasons' time, but I don't see the change being immediate. Tony Stewart has a lot of work ahead of him with that two-car operation, so much so I don't pay any mind to rumors he'll add a third car. Maybe in three or four years, but certainly not in 2009.
Which leaves RCR's No. 33. While Childress is one of the better organizations in the Sprint Cup garage, with three cars capable of qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, I'm not sure how smooth the introduction for that fourth car will be. I don't think the General Mills-sponsored No. 33 would be a Chase contender right out of the gate.
So at the end of the day, maybe Truex is best-served staying with DEI for the next two seasons. Either the organization will improve and Truex will eventually the kind of driver that organization can build itself around, or once 2010 wraps up, Truex could find himself with a better crop of rides from which to choose.
If things hold true to form (and if the last two seasons are any indication, how likely is that?), the No. 5 at Hendrick Motorsports could be open. Stewart-Haas, if competitive by this point, might go ahead and add that third car, which would also be a viable option for Truex.
The options could certainly be better than they are now; the best ride available right now is the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing, but unless your name is Joey Logano, I don't see you getting into that car -- regardless of age or experience or anything like that.
So maybe Truex is best-served staying where he is and waiting things out -- assuming DEI doesn't go belly-up within the next two years.
And I'm not convinced that won't happen.