Earnhardt and Truex: Junior Achievement
Earnhardt, who co-owns Chance 2 Motorsports with his stepmother Teresa Earnhardt, will be on top of the pit box Saturday afternoon, May 29, when his 23-year-old driver, Martin Truex Jr., competes in the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway.
¿I¿m learning a lot,¿ Earnhardt Jr. said about his ownership role in the No. 8 Kraft Chevrolet. ¿One of the things that has been really beneficial is the respect I¿ve gained for the (crew) guys on Sunday. Being in the pits, I¿ve learned about what is going on in there.
¿I thought they just ate ice cream in between stops¿that they didn¿t really care about what was going on. It¿s opened my eyes to a whole other side of the sport that I didn¿t really understand. It¿s been awesome for me.
¿Hopefully I can be a good car owner and be a successful one at that. I never thought about doing it for a living after driving, but if all this works out and heads in the right direction, that¿s probably where I¿ll be,¿ Earnhardt Jr. concluded.
Even though Chance 2 Motorsports is in its first full season of Busch Series competition, Truex Jr. has already won two races and is often mentioned among the championship contenders.
¿I think they can definitely win the championship,¿ Earnhardt Jr. said, showing the utmost confidence in his young team. ¿They¿ve got some of the best equipment at their fingertips and Martin can get the job done. He¿s a rookie in the Busch Series, but no rookie behind the wheel. He has a great idea of what he¿s trying to accomplish on the race track. He has a great sense of patience and also knows when to really push the car.¿
Martin Truex Sr. was very successful as a driver in NASCAR¿s modified series, so Truex Jr. grew up in the sport. He first raced go-karts at age 11 and began driving modifieds in 1998 at New Jersey¿s Wall Stadium.
By 2000, Truex Jr. was competing in the NASCAR Busch North Series, finishing 12th in points and second in the rookie standings. His first two victories came in 2001 as he finished eighth in the Busch North championship standings.
Truex Jr.¿s debut with Chance 2 Motorsports came at Richmond last May, and he quickly demonstrated he has what it takes to succeed. A pair of top-five finishes and three top-10 showings in six starts made it easy for the team to switch directions when the opportunity arose.
The initial plan was for Truex Jr. to run 24 Busch races and a handful of NEXTEL Cup events this season. But that changed when Dale Earnhardt, Inc. was unable to secure the necessary sponsorship to run its No. 1 Chevrolet in the entire NEXTEL Cup Series schedule
At that point, it was decided Truex Jr. would run the full Busch Series schedule along with a handful of Cup events. While that seemed like a lot to ask of the young driver, the Mayetta, N.J., native didn¿t flinch.
¿I think we can win races and contend (for the championship),¿ Truex Jr. said. ¿Consistency is going to be the name of the game and not running into any bad luck. I¿ve got a great team and a great crew chief (in Kevin ¿Bono¿ Manion). We¿ve worked really well together and we have the best resources we could ever ask for.¿
Instead of trying to impress his famous car owner, Truex Jr. has struck a fast friendship with his fellow Junior.
¿He¿s great. I¿m proud to say I¿ve become friends with him in the short time that I¿ve known him, not only as a car owner but as a friend,¿ Truex Jr. said. ¿He¿s been really easy to work with.
¿He lets me go out there and do my thing. If I have a question, I can ask him and he¿ll give me a straight answer. Sometimes he tells me what I did wrong without me even asking. It¿s all in fun. We have a great time with it. I¿m just proud to learn from somebody with as much experience as he has.¿
Tickets for the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday afternoon, May 29, start at just $17, and also include the final NEXTEL Cup Series practice sessions prior to the Coca-Cola 600. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-455-FANS.