Truex set to debut Taco Bell Chevrolet

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR STAFF
jbirchfield@starhq.com

   The city of Bristol is located on the Tennessee-Virginia border. The Bristol Motor Speedway will be a first journey for Martin Truex Jr. on the border, that's in the Taco Bell slogan, On the Border.
   This weekend at the Sharpie Professional 250, Truex and his Chance 2 Motorsports Busch Series team will debut the No. 8 Taco Bell Chevrolet.
   "Fortunately, they make it pretty easy on me," said the 23 year-old about the pressure of representing a national company. "They've done a lot of the work on their own. I just have to make the car go fast. That's my main job."
   Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive a second Taco Bell car in the Busch Series race at Talladega sporting a No. 81.
   Truex has been turning heads since getting the opportunity with DEI. Running in 10 races in 2003 and six races this season, Truex has been best on some of NASCAR's toughest tracks.
   Last November and in February, he posted runner-up finishes at Rockingham and in the series last race at Darlington, Truex ran a strong fourth.
   "I felt like we should have won at Rockingham, but I made a couple of mistakes and gave it away," said Truex. "We go to Darlington and finish fourth the first time I've seen the joint. I'm real proud of the way we've done.
   "I like those race tracks where there's not a lot of grip and you're sliding around. It's what I'm used to doing, racing with bias-ply tires, being on the edge of out of control every lap. I like those old slick tracks."
   He also did well in his debut last August at Bristol, when the Mayetta, N.J. driver wound up sixth.
   "We tested here two weeks ago and like our chances," said Truex. "We had a good car all night the last time. We got wrecked around all night, but was able to get through them."
   The son of Martin Truex, a star in the Northeast, Junior cut his teeth racing go-karts and Modifieds. After winning the 1999 Turkey Derby Classic for Modifieds, he moved to the full-bodied Busch North Series cars.
   In the Northern version of the Busch Series, Truex won five races and finished second in series points in 2001.
   With the opportunity to move South, Truex still finds it hard to believe he's racing for one of the sport's top organizations with his team an off-shoot of Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated.
   "I feel real fortunate to be doing what I'm doing," said the young shoe. "All I've ever wanted to do is race cars and I feel like I'm getting the opportunity of a lifetime."
   Notes: Also at Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday it was announced that Ty Norris, who recently left DEI will be joining Speedway Motorsports, the parent company of BMS. SMI chairman Bruton Smith was on hand along with BMS President Jeff Byrd to make the announcement.
   Other big announcements came from race sponsor Food City, including one promotion with Kingsford Charcoal driver Stacy Compton. If Compton wins Saturday's Busch Series race at BMS one lucky fan will leave the speedway Saturday with a prize of $1 million.