Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
ISM Raceway – November 9, 2018
Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media at ISM Raceway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Auto Owners Insurance Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
How long did it take for you to put the deal together with Joe Gibbs Racing?
“I can’t even remember the timeline. Honestly, I really didn’t do much looking. They reached out to me right after that and said they were trying to work it out. I never really had to talk to anybody else. I felt like that opportunity was the right one for me and what I wanted to do. For Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and I to keep going down the path we’ve been on – a place where we’re comfortable and where things have gone well for us. Feel like we fit into that system and going to new teams is difficult. There’s a lot of things we built on and if you go somewhere else, they go away and you start over. There’s a big learning curve. I felt like for us this was the best way to continue our success.”
Have you considered keeping the No. 78 and moving it to Joe Gibbs Racing?
“No, I really haven’t honestly. I haven’t really thought about it and don’t know how I really feel about it. I still feel like it’s Barney’s (Visser, team owner) number and I don’t think it would be right. Teams have their numbers and they like to stick to it. I don’t know, I hadn’t really thought about it or talked about it.”
Any plans to run any of the old Furniture Row paint schemes?
“Not 2005, but something different than we’ve run this year so that will be fun.”
What is this reconfigured pit road like and are their visual challenges?
“The visual challenges, I think the first one that jumped out to me was coming off of turn two and having grandstands there, changes your view quite a bit. The first time through there I was like, I don’t know where I’m at or where I need to be just because that changes your peripheral vision there off of now turn four. I already screwed that up. We had quite the conversation today in the hauler with talking about our car and what we needed to work on. We were like, old turn two, new turn two and mixed up the whole time about it. It’s hard when you get used to coming to a place for so long and you call corners one and two, three and four and then they switch them on you. It’s a bigger pain and a bigger challenge than you can ever imagine. As far as it goes, we only made four laps today so far, but it’s already been a challenge and there’s still a lot more that’s going to change as we get into the race and figuring out the restart zone and specifically where the start-finish line is and where they put it, it’s going to give us the opportunity to be many cars wide going through the dogleg. That’s going to change things a lot as well and we’ve only seen the beginning of it so far.”
What are your thoughts on Joey Logano stating that based on his recent performance, he is the championship favorite?
“Good for him. I don’t think that’s the case, but that’s just my opinion.”
Is the deal with Joe Gibbs Racing a multi-race contract?
“It’s multi-year. No silly season talk next year. Of course you never know in this sport anymore it seems like.”
Does Barney Visser plan to be in Homestead and do you expect him trackside next season?
“I think he’s planning on coming. He was at Texas and that was great to see him and talk with him. He’s been a little bit distant I guess from the team since the news so it was good to see him in Texas and talk a little bit about things. I think he’s kind of in an okay place about how it’s all went down and just the situation. I know for a while there, he wasn’t in a great place as far as that goes. It was good to have him at Texas and I wish we could have run a little bit better for him and had a better weekend, but it was good to talk to him and he was in good spirits, in a good mood and the guys were excited that he was at the track. Hopefully he will be at Homestead and we’ll give him something to be really happy about. He’s a pretty low key guy and it would be good if he would stick around a little bit.”
How much does it impact a team not to have a crew chief and car chief at the race track?
“I think it depends on the team, it depends on how they do things. I would say that today with technology, it’s not as big of a deal as it would have been five or 10 years ago. Years ago the crew chiefs were more hands-on on the car and now they’re not so much hands-on the car and they can do a lot through Skype and computers and they can get the radio transmission at the shop I think pretty quick. I really don’t think it’s a huge deal. I think the car chief is a huge deal because they’re hands-on the car, they’re orchestrating what’s going on in the garage during practice and making sure that every box is checked preparing for the race with the parts and pieces and all that. I think that it’s not really that big of a deal for the crew chief and I believe they would probably tell you the same thing.”
Are feeling more pressure with it being the final season for Furniture Row Racing?
“I feel similar to last year. It’s obviously a lot different situation. Nerves are just part of it, pressure is part of the sport and you learn to deal with that on a weekly basis. I think when something as big is on the line like the championship, it certainly escalates that. I think running in the Playoffs for the last four years and being a contender and being in there, you get used to that feeling of being uncomfortable and you just get better at blocking out all the noise and being able to focus on the important things. I feel like I’m in a good place and I think the team is doing a great job with all we’ve faced throughout the Playoffs and obviously the future of the team. Everybody has done a really great job and just trying to have a really good weekend here, get through it and get to Homestead, see if we can make it happen and get it done.”
How many of your core crew members will go with you to Joe Gibbs Racing and how many do you need to hold together?
“I’m not sure yet. It’s definitely been a strong team and a strong group of guys that just really gel and click. We talked over the years about how different we all are and the paths that we’ve been down to get where we’re at. We’ve all kind of faced a lot of challenges, but it’s kind of been a good fit for all of us to work together. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to stay exactly like it is. I already know of a few guys doing something else. That’s the way things go and you move on, you make new relationships and friends and Cole’s been a big part of trying to put together the group that he wants to continue the magic or make some new magic. We’ll see how it all works out, but I’m excited and it’s a great opportunity. Looking forward to the future and running for championships for years to come.”
Do you enjoy the rivalry atmosphere heading into Homestead?
“I really don’t care. It’s good for the sport and it’s good for our fans to see things that get them fired up. For me personally, I know what I need to do. I don’t need to tell anyone. Talk is cheap, put it on the race track and show us what you’ve got, that’s all that matters. That’s kind of what I focus on and that’s what I plan on doing if I get there.”
Is there an urgency to get stage points this weekend or just business as usual to go for the race win?
“I think it’s business as usual. I think if we just have a good, solid weekend with no mistakes and execute with no pit road penalties and none of that crazy stuff happening. With that said, today was a complete disaster in practice. We took forever to get through inspection, we only got two runs and we were way off. Hopefully we can get it turned around for qualifying and have a good starting spot, but we’ve come from the back here before and got stage points, we did it last week. Just hopefully we’ll have a good day tomorrow and a car we feel confident we can run up front with, top-five and go get some stage points and try to make it happen.”