Car number: 1 • Manufacturer: Chevy • Sponsor: Bass Pro Shops
Owner: Teresa Earnhardt
• Team: Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
• Crew Chief: Kevin Manion
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
2007 Spin This team is still a year away.
Martin Truex Jr. and the Bass Pro team came a long way last season, finishing strong down the stretch and settling in at 19th in the final point standings. The momentum should carry through, but not enough to earn a spot in the Chase.
Truex recorded only five top 10s in 2006, and we believe he'll double that this season. He adapted well to life in the big leagues and could challenge for a win or two this year. Crew chief Kevin "Bono" Manion has good chemistry with his driver, which helped the sophomore-to-be relay in-race information and gain an understanding of aero issues and shock and spring setups. Don't expect any sort of sophomore slump out of Truex. It's believed he will move forward, not backward, this season.
Truex has a tendency to be impatient on the track, but that is a problem a good crew chief can remedy. His desire is unquestioned, as is his talent, which points to a bright future. Once Truex lets the race come to him, he should find more success.
A third DEI entry driven by Paul Menard should do nothing but help the Bass Pro Shop team. Any helpful information Truex & Co. can get will be a positive for a team still working its way up the Nextel Cup food chain.
Keep an eye on Truex at the intermediates this season as his runner-up finish at Homestead was no fluke. He also showed some plate prowess in the fall Talladega event. Remember, this is a guy who won the Busch Series title in his first full season on the circuit, only to follow it up with a second championship. He'll get the hang of this Cup racing thing. It's only a matter of time.
The 2006 season ended on a high note for DEI's second team. Martin Truex Jr. scored a career-high second-place finish at Homestead in a car that was fast enough to win the race.
Beginning with the June trip to Michigan, Truex finished on the lead lap in 16 of the season's final 22 races. The improvement launched him from 25th in the point standings to 19th by year's end. While the equipment continued to improve, much of the credit goes to Truex, Bono Manion and crew, as the team really came into its own as the season progressed.
A sixth at Dover, where Truex has always excelled, was a bright spot. That was followed by solid runs of 11th and fifth at Kansas and Talladega.
The team got it all together in the season's final three events. Qualifying no better than 20th in any race, Truex drove through the field to notch runs of 14th, 12th and second. He has momentum on his side heading into '07.
• The Good: The second-place finish in Homestead was the highlight of the season. Martin Truex Jr. started 20th and quickly made his way to the top 5 for the strongest run of the season.
• The Bad: Truex had a top 5 car at the fall Atlanta event before a wheel bearing ruined the run. He ended the day 37th, in the garage with a trashed racecar.
• The Ugly: The frustration of an ill-handling car showed at the spring Bristol race. Truex went for a retaliatory shot against Jeff Gordon and ended up being knocked into the wall himself by Tony Stewart. Ugly and funny!