Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Chicagoland Speedway – June 30, 2018
Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media at Chicagoland Speedway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
What is it about this track that you’re so good at and can we give the trophy now?
“Well, you can. It’s probably not going to be as simple. I don’t know, this track has always been really good for me. Obviously the last two years, it’s been really good. I had to overcome a lot of issues here both years it seems like in order to get the win. That’s kind of neat looking back at our races here of what we had to overcome with for a win. This year will be different. Different tires and that’s probably the biggest thing. The tires and when it’s 104 degrees outside. It will be a little different this weekend and hopefully we can continue it. I don’t know if I do anything special here or if it’s just that we figured out something special here that we just hit on for two years. We’ll see how this weekend goes. It will be different for sure.”
Kevin Harvick said your car would have passed him either way last week at Sonoma, is that how you saw it?
“It’s hard to say. I thought we were pretty equal. I felt like I was saving a bit early the first two stages. I felt like he was pushing hard. Before the pit call, when we pitted and he stayed out, I was catching him. I felt like maybe he was losing a little bit of his braking abilities. There maybe some truth to that. We’ll never know. At the end of the day we won. Our car was really strong. It’s hard to say if a caution would have came out or something changed, if we had a head-to-head, who would have won.
Are you surprised there has been so few winners in the Cup Series this year?
“I guess I am not surprised but it’s definitely crazy to think about. The dominance of a handful of teams. You think about the rules today and how strictly enforced everything is. Just how tight everything is and the box we have to work in. And the fact that for more or less four teams have been able to find an advantage consistently is hard to believe. It’s hard to believe that four teams can do that. I am little bit surprised. I know he (Kevin Harvick) is not. There are so many great, talented people in the garage between drivers, crew chiefs, engineers. To find that edge is so difficult to do. Hats off to those teams for sure.”
With these same four teams win the Playoffs or will there be a reset?
“I really don’t know. It’s hard to say. If you look at the past few years, it seems like the strong teams have been able to keep their edge. That doesn’t guarantee anything I don’t think. I think things are changing. Certainly the Chevrolet’s have gotten a new body this year and are a little slower out of the gate than they would have hoped. I am sure they will find things that help them. We have other great team combinations that maybe haven’t hit yet. I think you never know. It’s way too early to start giving away four spots in the final four and giving championship favorites. We got 10 more races until the Playoffs and a lot can happen in that amount of time.”
Is the track bumpy here and is that an issue?
“I think it’s great. Anytime we can make the track more difficult, it can add to the racing. This place has been bumpy for the last few years and quite a long time. It seems like every year it gets worse. I think that’s the good thing. I enjoy this place because of that and seems like bumpy tracks put on really good racing. It kind of takes you out of your normal routine as far as the way you do things. You have to make compromises. Some guys are better in certain areas of the track and that makes more fun races. This place is unbelievable and I look forward to racing on it here this weekend.”
Where do you see your season going? Continued wins and battle for the championship?
“I hope they’re not coming to an end, we don’t plan on that happening. Certainly, it’s kind of interesting if you look at the numbers this year – the good races, we’ve had more good races this year and we have more wins right now at this point than we did last season. We have more top-fives, but we also have more bad finishes if you look at it than last year at this time we had two wins and we were leading the points and now we have three wins and 10 top-fives and we’re fifth in points. We had five really bad races out there and I think every other race has been a top-five. It’s been a little more up and down, but for sure the performance is there and the good days have been really good and there’s been quite a few of them. Hopefully we can keep those bad days from showing back up.”
Where did an 18-year old Martin Truex Jr. see himself? Or at 28-years old?
“At 18, I never saw myself at this level even. I was racing modifieds and working on fishing boats. It was a far stretch to think I would be a Cup champion someday. Honestly, I don’t know that I was ever even a dreamer at that point in time. I loved racing cars and was having a good time doing it, I was really focused on that. Definitely never saw myself here that’s for sure. At 28, I was already in the Cup series at 28, but those years weren’t that spectacular and I don’t know that I saw myself winning a championship, but always knew that I was going to try as hard as I could.”
Can you experiment during the summer months after having so much success early?
“I think that’s a little bit overblown. If you’re running well and leading laps and winning races, you’re not really apt to experiment a lot. You feel pretty good about your program and you’re strengths and do the things you do. The experimentation thing is something that is more old school. This day and age you want to have confidence in the things you’re doing and continue to do them. That’s kind of the approach we’ll take and like I said, for us just eliminating some of those bad days we’ve had is important and make sure we don’t have any trouble when the Playoffs start. We need to get our confidence rolling and to your point about Playoff points and stacking up wins, being able to race relaxed is always easier and having Playoff points and bonus points when the Playoffs start is big for that. I know last year we really didn’t have many concerns the first two rounds, as long as we didn’t have any major malfunctions, we’re going to be okay and it just makes it a little bit easier to do your job and not worry about things that can happen like what happened to us in 2016.”
Can you quantify how difficult it will be to drive in the heat today and how the track will be impacted?
“I’m not sure yet to be out there today, we’ll find out. Grip has been tough to find this weekend for a lot of guys. New tires as well so there’s a lot of new things going on. Definitely going to be tougher, I would imagine that the temperature is going to be on average a little higher than what we run here in the fall. I think more guys are going to get the top working. It’s definitely going to be different, but how much it’s hard to say right now.”
Does the bumpiness of Chicagoland change how you practice and how you approach the race?
“Definitely changes how you practice and how you drive. Changes how you set the car up and you definitely have to make more compromises when the tracks are bumpy with your setup and you can’t just run the car a 16th of an inch off the race track all the way around like you do at some places so it’s definitely tougher to figure out, but it’s a lot harder on the crew chiefs and engineers for sure because we complain about the bumps and they try to fix them and it hurts other parts of the track so a lot of compromise here compared to other places.”