Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Charlotte Motor Speedway – October 6, 2017
Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 78 Auto Owner’s Insurance Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
How are the Playoffs shaping up and how are you and the team approaching the next few races?
“Definitely looking forward to the second round. This is the one that got us last year, so I think everybody is looking at Talladega and looking at that with a little bit of nerves. IN general, feel good about our team and where we’re at, what we’re doing. We’ll just try to take it one race at a time and hopefully kick it off strong here at Charlotte. So far today has been a bit eventful for a lot of teams. Fortunately, we had a pretty fairly smooth practice. Looking forward to qualifying tonight and see what we can do. Hopefully have a great weekend here.”
How does it feel to be the driver to beat every week?
“It feels good. It feels really good honestly. It’s been a great season and you know it’s been really cool to be kind of the guy to beat or to have the most stage wins, the most points, the most wins, all that stuff. At the same time with eight races to go anything can happen. It feels awesome but I think we’re trying to just really stay focused and not really reminisce too much. There will be time to do that later. I feel like our team is doing a great job of doing that. Staying focused and we know where we want to go. Just try to – got to get there. It’s going to be difficult, there’s no doubt about it. But it does feel really good. It’s been a lot of fun this year.”
What is the challenge with the track surface and the PJ1 after first practice?
“I think as we move through the weekend it’ll get better and better. Last time we were here, there was none on the track on Friday. So when we were doing – we were the first ones on track then as well and of course we had the All-Star race the weekend before. We were able to get on the race track with it being normal and make our qualifying runs and qualify and then they put it on the track later on. I think had we all been in race trim, I don’t know that it would have been quite as big of a deal as it was, but at the same time it was difficult to be the first ones out there – lot of people in q-trim trying to make only four or five total laps in practice and be able to put it all together. I think we just need some cars to run on that stuff and wear it in and get the track kind of prepped. Certainly I don’t think anyone expected it to be as challenging as it was. Maybe for the future we definitely need to look at a different way to prep the track so when we go out there guys aren’t running into the wall.”
How much does knowing that this is the round that kept you from advancing last year stick around with you?
“I don’t think you ever forget it. I think you obviously try to learn from it. I think for us last year, as bad as we performed at Charlotte and Kansas, ultimately Talladega still took us out with an engine failure. But at the same time, we only missed it by a few points. Now I think you – it makes you really look at the playoff points and the bonus points and say ‘Okay, I think we feel a whole lot better now than we did last year’ and I really honestly think that no matter what happens at Talladega, if we can just perform to the level that we know how and have consistently all year long at Charlotte and Kansas, we’ll be in fine shape. It’s definitely a little bit different feeling this year, little bit more comfortable I would say. But we’ll see how it shakes out.”
What’s your perspective on the 12 drivers in the Playoffs and is it realistic to say anyone has a shot?
“It’s so difficult to say because of the elimination format and again a bad race or two could take out a guy that we potentially could be calling one of the favorites right now. I think it’s really too early to talk about it. I don’t know that you can have favorites. I don’t know that you can pick your top four and say these guys are going to be at Homestead no matter what. We got to all go out and race and see where it all lines up. I think I know who our biggest competition is, but again there’s no guarantee we’ll get there or they will either. One race at a time and try to do our job. I think that’s the best approach.”
Do you have any concerns about security in Las Vegas in December for After the Lap?
“I hadn’t really thought about it to be honest with you. It’s really hard to think about that right now and it’s sad that we have to talk about it. It’s awful to see what happened there last week or this week I should say. I don’t know. I definitely wouldn’t want to be the one making the decision to go there or the guy that has to set up security or any of that stuff. It’s a crazy time in this world.”
Are you upset to see another 1.5-mile track go away with how well you perform at those tracks?
“That’s a loaded question. I don’t know. The Roval is interesting to say the least, so we’ll just have to see. I’ve been fortunate in my career to have success on road courses, but there’s no telling how this one is going to stack up against the other two that we race on the series. I feel like I’ve been pretty good at those, but there’s no guarantee that we’ll be good here. I believe we’re doing the test here in a month or so. We’ll know more then. But it ought to be interesting that’s for sure.”
Does it feel good to come into a place where you’ve had so much success?
“Yeah it feels good. I think honestly when I think of Charlotte I feel like we’ve had a few slip away here. Easily had a shot at winning three 600s in a row which is pretty awesome. Unfortunately, we’ve only got one win and you know last fall we had some issues. I feel good coming in because we’re good at this type of race track and we’ve had a lot of speed at Charlotte in particular the last couple of years. I feel like we can do a good job this weekend, but you just never know. You’ve got to just focus on the task at hand and not get caught up in what you’ve done before and try to go get after it. I’m looking forward to it. I think we’ve brought a really good race car and so far it’s felt pretty good, so we’ll see where we get.”
Does this race taking place during the day change your approach from the night race?
“Yeah, I definitely think that we’ve been better for sure in the night race and for whatever reason starting in the daytime and ending at night always seems like we do a good job with that and finding speed and finding a way to get to the truck. Certainly a little bit different story this time around – like I said with the day race. But honestly, I don’t know when we’re going to race this thing with the weather coming in. It looks pretty bad for a few days. Just have to be open minded, be ready for anything and try to make a pretty good logical guess on when we might race and use that to figure it out.”
Do you still think Talladega will be as crazy as it has been since it’s not a cutoff race this year?
“For sure, I think the stage points are really what changes that racing. I think guys are willing to risk it more because those stage points are available. I feel like if you can have a good finish in the first two stages, somehow you maybe get caught up in a wreck or something bad happens, you still have those points. It’s kind of a net gain from what it used to be. I would say that we’ll have less guys riding in the back than normal and should be more of an intense race with a big crowd up front most of the day.”