Martin Truex Jr.’s team is disbanding at the end of the 2018 season, which has led to speculation that the No. 78 could become distracted before the end of the year.
Truex made a statement that would not be the case in the opening playoff race at Las Vegas. He won Stage 1 of the South Point 400 and was contending for the win with the checkers in sight. He finished third and took the points lead.
But does that change how the No. 78 should be viewed when assessing their playoff potential?
“They’ve proven to have the speed, but can they continue to have the speed throughout the playoffs? There’s nothing to point in any direction to say that they cannot,” Steve Letarte said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “All I will say is the distraction of the team closure will become louder and more noisy as they get to the end of the year.”
“What about the other 60 plus employees back in Denver? Those people are going to be looking for jobs,” Kyle Petty said. “Those people are going to want to get out of Denver sometime in November and be moving east if they are going to go to work for a Joe Gibbs or a Richard Childress or a Roger Penske or a Rick Hendrick.
“If they are going to find other jobs, if they’re closing down, that’s where the team will begin to disintegrate a little bit – begin to have cracks in it. Not what goes on at the racetrack, but the product they get to the racetrack with.”
And yet, as if winning a second straight championship was not difficult enough, Cole Pearn and Truex are now engaged in a delicate balancing act akin to jogging on a tightrope.
“Cole Pearn and Martin are doing a wonderful job managing the respect for the team and what they have next year and allowing their people to do whatever they need and somehow bringing that eye of the tiger approach” Letarte said.
For more, watch the video above.