DOVER, Del. - DEI returned to Victory Lane with a junior - Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s unheralded and previously winless teammate, Martin Truex Jr.
After another weekend of nonstop Earnhardt speculation, Truex gave the Dale Earnhardt Inc. team a much-needed victory in the 400-mile race at Dover International Speedway on Monday.
“It feels good to hush up all that and solidify the fact that we are here for real,” Truex said. “We are going to win races and contend for championships in the future.”
But news of longtime NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr.'s death overshadowed Truex's first career victory and even silenced the Earnhardt rumors, at least for a while.
Truex won for the first time in 58 career points races on what the New Jersey native has long considered his hometown track. He ended a dominant five-race winning streak for Hendrick Motorsports, leading 216 of the 400 laps on the Monster Mile in NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow.
Rumors have swirled for weeks about what team Earnhardt will drive for next season. Now, perhaps, Truex can talk about his win instead of the latest Earnhardt whispers.
His message was this: DEI is far from finished even without Junior.