Top 20 countdown: No. 20 Martin Truex Jr.
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No. 19: Revealed Tuesday
Editor’s note: Yahoo! Sports is counting down the Top 20 drivers going into the 2009 season. The order was determined by a survey, which asked six NASCAR journalists – Ricky Craven, Jay Busbee and Jay Hart (Yahoo! Sports); Jenna Fryer (Associated Press); David Poole (Charlotte Observer); and Nate Ryan (USA Today) – to predict the final standings for the 2009 season. The countdown will conclude on Feb. 6 with the unveiling of the No. 1 driver.
No. 20: Martin Truex Jr.
2008 finish: 15th
2009 outlook: Just one season removed from a place in the Chase, Martin Truex Jr. is heading the wrong way. But is it his fault?
Dale Earnhardt Inc., now Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, has gone from a promising second-tier team to one of complete irrelevancy.
Just like when Jerry Krause decided the Chicago Bulls could win without Michael Jordan, Theresa Earnhardt over-estimated the value of the Earnhardt brand sans Dale Jr. And now the same “teams-not-players-win-championships” attitude that turned the Bulls into a laughingstock has forced Theresa to partner with Chip Ganassi.
But will Chip and Dale be any better together than they were alone?
The evidence – the two teams combined for zero wins in 2008 and placed only one driver (Truex) in the top 15 in the final standings – says no, which is why there’s little confidence that Truex will finish any better than 20th in 2009.
In fact, Truex’s name only appeared on three of the six ballots cast in this Yahoo! Sports poll.
While the competition has gotten tougher, Truex’s team has gotten weaker. That’s a tough combination to overcome, even for someone with Truex’s talent.
What you need to know: Truex reportedly wanted to leave DEI following the 2008 season, but his contract situation got in the way. He will be a free agent following the 2009 campaign, so expect this to be his last under the Earnhardt umbrella.