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Four crew members fired from Truex's team

May 03, 2011, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

Driver threatened action during Richmond race; new team debuts Saturday

Weary of having fast race cars and little to show for it in the Sprint Cup points standings, Martin Truex Jr. reached a breaking point during last Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway.

When a loose wheel sidetracked his hopes at RIR, Truex threatened to have his entire pit crew fired. Four of them paid that price Tuesday when they were replaced in an effort to improve the driver's race results. The new crew will be in place for this Saturday night's Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

"If a job is not getting done, then a change needs to be made. That holds true for every member, including myself."

--MARTIN TRUEX

"We had a very good car at Richmond. It was the best car I've ever had there," Truex said in a team release. "The last five weeks have been very tough on this team. We've run well and have very little to show for it."

Truex attempted to bite his tongue after earlier incidents, but found he could not do so after mishaps on pit road ruined a potentially strong finish at Richmond. After running in the top five much of the night and even leading Laps 246-257 of the 400-lap event, he ended up 27th after first having to pit for a loose wheel and then learning later that he had to return to the pits again for a loose lug nut on yet another tire.

The poor finish left Truex 22nd in points heading into Darlington.

"In Richmond, it was hard not to say anything when our night ended the way it did," Truex said. "NASCAR is an emotional sport. We go from taking the lead and me screaming, "Hell yeah!" on the radio to having a loose wheel and going several laps down. I got pretty upset.

"We pour our entire lives into NASCAR and it is not an easy sport. It's one of the toughest racing series in the world. There is a tremendous amount of pressure on every single individual that makes up a race team. If a job is not getting done, then a change needs to be made. That holds true for every member, including myself. I want to win more than anything in this world and that's why I got very upset. I understand changes are going to be made within our pit crew heading into Darlington. I appreciate the fact that MWR addressed the issue and we're moving on."

The team announced late Tuesday afternoon that the new lineup includes Eric Maycroft as the new front tire changer, Ricky Coleman as the new front tire carrier, Daniel Rankin as the new rear tire changer and Jake Brzozowski as the new rear tire carrier. The only crew members not replaced were jack man Brian Chase and gas man Doug Newell.

Steve Hallam, MWR's executive vice president and director of competition, said the changes were necessary to capitalize on what he says is "significant improvement in the overall performance" of the No. 56 car. Truex is in his second season driving for MWR and finished 22nd in points last year with only one top-five finish.

His best finish this season in the first nine races was sixth at the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas. In several of the other races, he flashed the speed to run up front frequently -- only to repeatedly lose valuable track position because of pit-road miscues.

"With our impressive speed comes the added pressure of the entire team to perform," Hallam said in the release. "As we know, the No. 56 has experienced several challenges on pit road and we feel the need to intervene. Pit crews are professional sportsmen and as such, they understand that sometimes changes need to be made.

"The team will have new tire carriers and changers beginning at Darlington this weekend. Two of those four athletes we've added come from our Nationwide program and the other two from our back-up squad. Our organization is fortunate to have the flexibility and depth of experienced crew members to make adjustments from time to time that benefit everyone involved."

Truex said he hopes it makes a difference at Darlington.

"Darlington is one of my favorite tracks," said Truex, whose lone Cup victory came at Dover in 2007 when he was driving a Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc. "Since it's been repaved, it seems to fit my driving style even more. I've been in the top five and led a bunch of laps in every single race since the repave. I can't say enough about our team. They are doing an awesome job preparing fast cars. We just need to go to Darlington and capitalize on our speed."

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