Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Bristol Motor Speedway – August 17, 2018
Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media at Bristol Motor Speedway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Bass Pro Shops / Ducks Unlimited Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
What does it feel like to come to the race track and know you have a chance to win every weekend?
“It’s definitely a lot of fun and something that I’ve worked towards for a long time in the Cup Series obviously. For our team, we’ve been able to be in that position I feel like for a few years now so that’s been fun. It definitely wasn’t overnight. In 2014 we struggled, in 2015 we started to get our arms around it and get that momentum. It’s been fun to be able to do that for a couple seasons and hopefully we can keep doing it, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
How important is the telemetry sharing within the garage?
“It’s kind of tough to say and it’s hard to measure the impact of what’s gone on there. I know we use it consistently and a lot of other guys use it as well. The hard part is dealing with different teams and different approaches. Say you’re a little bit off at a certain race track and looking at the guy that’s the fastest guy there and you’re like, ‘well, I really would like to drive it like that, but I can’t.’ There’s still that element of teamwork and you make your car do what you need it to do. Sometimes it’s physically impossible to drive like another guy because of the way your car is. I think for us, the only times we’ve really focused on it this year was when we were off a little bit and the only time I really worry about looking at it is at tracks that I need to get better. I would say yes it’s definitely helped because you know what to shoot for, you know things to look out for and worry about so I would say that in general it’s made the field tighter, closer and understand tracks more and have a better game plan going into weekends.”
Can you talk about Toyota and Bass Pro Shops coming together to benefit your foundation?
“Thanks for asking about it, we were able to unveil the Tundra and the boat yesterday at the Bass Pro Shops appearance and that was really neat and really excited about that. Two long time, great partners in Bass Pro Shops and Toyota donating the Tracker Heritage boat and also the Tundra with the TRD Sport package, it’s really, really cool item. Folks can bid on them for $25, you buy a ticket and you’re in the raffle to win it. It goes on until October 21 so there’s plenty of time for people to get online and make a donation for their chance to win it – www.martintruexjrfoundation.org/sweepstakes. Really cool to be a part of that and hopefully raise a lot of money for our foundation and our partner at Novant Health, which we have two really big projects going on – one in Charlotte and one in Huntersville. Folks can check that out online as well, but definitely proud of what we’ve been able to do and the partnership with those two has been incredible for us and our foundation.”
How much easier is to tolerate the grind when you’re running well on the race track?
“It’s a lot easier, there’s no question. It’s a lot more fun to run good. A lot more fun to show up at the race track each weekend and know you have a shot at winning. It makes dealing with all the other things that come along with doing the job a little bit easier. I think as the years go by here, especially since I’ve started, it seems like things have changed to where there’s a lot more off-track commitments and there’s a lot more things we have to do to make things work. Obviously, it’s getting tougher and a lot more challenging each season to bring in the sponsorship and bring in the dollars it takes to be competitive so that requires more work from us. I think if you’re not running good, it’s just hard to deal with it all. For me, having fun and doing what we’re doing and hopefully we can keep it up like I said earlier and keep things rolling. Definitely busy schedules and look, some of these guys have been racing since they were six, seven, eight years old and they have families and they want to do some other things. Wish all those guys the best and with that said, I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon.”
Does it add to the grind when you’re learning a new sponsor as you’ll be faced with next season?
“Sure it adds, I think the more partners you have, the more things away from the track and the more things you have to do and the more commitments you have. Absolutely, we’ll just have to see how it all shakes out. Typically, you have a certain number of appearances per sponsor and the more sponsors you have, the more you have to do. It’s definitely a tough balance.”
Why did your team try to stretch fuel at the end of stage two last weekend – points or track position?
“I would say it’s a little bit of both, I think for us, that race started out in a bad way for us getting spun out on lap 10 or whatever it was so we were just trying to get track position back. We knew we had a fast car and obviously, it’s hard to pass there. Just banking on really just getting another caution or something. Honestly, taking a little bit of a gamble because we felt that was the only shot we were going to have to put ourselves in position to win the race. Definitely had a car capable of doing that with track position, but once those dominoes fell there, it was kind of tough and uphill from there.”
What percent chance is there that you’ll be driving for Furniture Row Racing in 2019?
“That’s hard to put a number on. Honestly, I really don’t know. I think in another week or two I’ll have a better answer for you. Better percentage – right now, we need sponsorship and that’s as simple as it gets. It’s hard to say, is there a 50 percent chance we get that in a couple weeks or a hundred percent chance or two percent, I don’t know. I can tell you that everything is based upon that.”
Do you hear your name associated with a lot of rumors around other teams?
“I’m starting to hear rumors. That’s kind of how it works in this sport, I’ve been in this position before. I’ve got a great team – Barney (Visser, team owner) has done a lot for my career. It’s something we all want to keep going and just need a little bit of time to let the dominoes fall into place and see if we can keep it going and if not, I have to figure it out from there.”
How is your team able to focus on a championship battle with the uncertainty they’re currently facing?
“I would say that the biggest thing for us as a group because we’ve kind of been in this situation before, really the past couple seasons we’ve been at a tipping point at some point in time and we’ve just been able to focus on doing our jobs. We always feel like that at the end of the day, if we do our jobs and we do them well and we’re winning races, that’s our best opportunity to keep things going the way they are. I think that’s not going to change, that’s what we have to do. The commitments people made to us are through the end of the season and so no matter what happens, this is a professional sport and we need to hold up our end of the deal and the guys all understand that. With that said, we’re going to fight as hard as we can no matter what next year looks like – fight as hard as we can throughout the season and try to repeat what we did last year.”
How are you able to break momentum from a driver who has momentum at a certain race track?
“It’s definitely fun to go to race tracks where you’ve been successful in the past. I think you have that extra confidence, but more so than that with your team you have the notebook, you have the understanding of the race track, what you need your car to do throughout the weekend – not so much what it needs to be when you show up, but what it needs to be come race time because these tracks change so much throughout the weekend, especially here at Bristol with the PJ1 they spray down. Where is the groove going to be? Today it was bottom the whole first practice and then the second practice the faster lane was at the top by the end of it. Tracks like this that change a lot, you have to be open-minded, but also have that notebook and a good understanding of the race track and what direction it goes in the race. Obviously, Kyle (Busch) and his team have done a good job of that here and we’re trying to figure out how to do it. Feel like it’s a decent track for us if we can just get a good finish and that’s what we’re looking for here this weekend. Always fun to come to tracks you’re good at.”