Preparing For The Next Step

Although he has only been racing full time on the NASCAR Busch Series circuit for two years, Martin Truex Jr. has already become a legend.

In his time on the circuit, he has 12 victories, 34 top fives and 51 top 10’s in just 84 starts. As a result of his dominance, Truex became only the fifth driver in Busch Series history to win back-to-back championships.

"This second one was ten times harder than the first one. I am not sure why that is, I think competition was a lot better. And we screwed up more. I think why we are more proud of this one because of the way we did it, not because it's the second one. Obviously, it gets sweeter every time."

Not a bad legacy to have built up in a short period of time. Next year, however, everything will be different.

As was announced on July 1st at Daytona International Speedway, Truex will take the next step up in his career, as he will be part of the crowded rookie class in the NEXTEL Cup Series as the pilot the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet out of the Dale Earnhardt Inc. stable.

Although he will have impressive credentials as he makes the switch over to the NEXTEL Cup, the soon to be driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet does not feel pressured to succeed from the start.

"This year, I wasn’t happy unless I was running up front winning races. Everybody expected us to do that. Everybody expected us to win the championship. They are not going to expect us to do that next year. We can set our own standard ourselves and try to better that each week and every time we go out."

Unlike past rookies, this crop will also come to the NEXTEL Cup with a greater knowledge about their competition, as Truex and Co. have been competing against many of them at various Busch races.

"Even if (the Buschwackers) cars aren’t perfect, somehow they always get up front. They race really smart, they don’t run into everybody like some of the guys do that are out here every week (in the Busch Series). They are really good racers and that’s why they are in the Cup Series. It's really been fun racing with a lot of them. You have to step your game up just to race with them, let alone beat them."

One advantage he will have on his competitors who will be running their first full year in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup is that he will have the experience of a proven veteran alongside him: Busch Series co-car owner, best friend and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"I think moving into the shop and becoming one team, building cars together is going to (help). Especially without the testing, practice is going to be so important. I feel confident when I go to the racetrack that if I am not running good and (Earnhardt Jr.) is that I can throw his setup in my car and I can run well, maybe not as good as him, but I would like to think I could. Hopefully we can build that relationship so it’s the same way on the other side. And we can do that each week, so that if one of us is good we can use each others stuff. That'll be a big part of it for both of us I think. A lot more pressure is on us to step up and make them confident enough to do that."

Considering all of these factors, look for Truex to start building a new legacy in the NEXTEL Cup Series starting in 2006.

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