Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Michigan International Speedway – June 8, 2018
Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media at Michigan International Speedway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
How does it feel coming to Michigan International Speedway coming off a win?
“Yeah, for sure. Last weekend was obviously a great weekend for our team getting back to victory lane for the second time of the year, so, yeah, things have been going really well for us lately. Couple of seconds, a fourth and a win last week, so things are going well and the guys are doing a great job and looking forward to hopefully continuing that here at Michigan. This has been a really good track for us. I feel like we’ve performed really well here the last few years and haven’t quite got that win yet, so hopefully this weekend we can get it done.”
How do you feel about your road course package with three coming up?
“I don’t that it changes a whole lot. I think for the teams more than anything, it’s nice to have more than two road courses – they have to build two cars at least to go do that, so nice I guess to get to use those more to make it a little bit more important to folks on those cars. But for me, I really enjoy road course racing, so it should be a fun change and hopefully the roval works out to be as exciting as it’s being let on to be. We’ll have to see, but it’s definitely going to be wild. Looking forward to Sonoma – I love that race track. It’s definitely a very unique road course – a lot of fun to drive, really difficult and challenging. Last year, we had an unbelievable race going there and lost an engine, so look forward to a little redemption there hopefully.”
What is it like racing on so many differing tracks that require different skills from the drivers?
“Yeah, I mean all tracks are different, you know? So you look at Michigan and California for example – they look exactly the same from the sky. The shape is the same, the length is the same – they couldn’t be any more different from a driver’s standpoint or a crew chief’s standpoint the way you set the car up. California is an old, wore out surface – really wears tires out, has bumps in it, has a lot of the challenges that are different than here. This place is repaved not that long ago, still very smooth for the most part, lots of grip, not a lot of tire wear and super high speed, so basically you take two of the same race tracks and you set the car up completely different, so that’s kind of an example of what we go through as teams throughout the year. You look at all the mile-and-a-halves, they’re all different – every single one of them – so every week is a new challenge and you have to figure out what works best for that race track and like I said earlier that goes back to history and just understanding what it takes to get around each particular race track and then implementing what you’re doing this year, this season with the technology, with the rules package – all those type of things – and putting together a good package. So it’s really tough and the teams do an incredible job of showing up at these places and usually giving most of the drivers something they can hang onto.”
Is it that much harder to stay on top once you win a championship?
“Yeah, I don’t know. I hadn’t really thought about it much. I think – we just – we kind of at least for me, I just kind of take it week to week and see where we’re at and hopefully hope to be able to come to the track each weekend and have a shot at winning and I feel like this year we’ve done that, so, yeah, I don’t know that it’s any harder. You know, the desire definitely doesn’t go down because you won it already. You’re not like, ‘Well, I got that out of the way. Now there’s less pressure. I don’t care if we do it again,’ or anything. It’s not like that. It’s just you know what it mean, you know what it feels like, you know just how fun it is to celebrate with your team and feel the sense of accomplishment together and you just want to do that again, so I think for us we’re working as hard as we ever have. Certainly, as hard as we did last year to make sure we can have a shot at doing it again and I think right now we’re in decent shape to be able to do it, but things change fast, so you’ve got to keep working and you’ve got to keep your head down and just keep grinding it out each week.”
How much does experience aide your talent?
“I think experience is very important. Not only for the driver, but for the driver and team combination. I can’t tell you how much we look back at past notes and things we’ve done over the years in the past and it’s one of those things where it’s like every time you come back to a race track, you play off of what you did there last time and the last few times and I feel like you just really play off of that experience in the past and try to continue to build on that each time you go back, so I definitely think it’s important. It’s a big part of what I feel like the really strong teams do and you use a lot of your history as much as you do technology.”
Has this track started to widen out?
“Yeah, I hope we do. You know, we’ll have to see. Goodyear’s brought a new tire this weekend. Hopefully, that will help play into that. I know they used the Tire Dragon quite a bit this week from basically where we normally run to higher than that, so we’ll just have to see. It’s definitely been a challenge to work the higher grooves here and it seems like everybody runs the – because of the way the banking is at this race track with the bottom groove being the flattest part of the track, you typically don’t run down there throughout the weekend until the race when you have to have somewhere to go – you have to an option, so it seems like everybody runs the middle all weekend and then Sunday during the race you start going to the bottom for an option instead of going to the top so we’ll have to see. It seems like (Turns) 3 and 4 is a little bit more prone to getting wider getting in especially on the entry because of the way the corner’s laid out and on the exit, but it’s been tough to make that third groove work here since they paved it really. I think there’s maybe one or two races where a few guys got it working at some point in the race, but typically it hasn’t been the fastest way to get around here. Hopefully as it wears, it will continue to move up – continue to give more options. You know, before it was repaved, you could run all over it, so the geometry of the race track and the way the banking is, I would think at some point it’s going to lend itself to it being wider and being able to run higher and make those higher grooves work, but so far it’s been a challenge with the pavement not wearing very fast.”
How will the tire test benefit this race?
“Yeah, I mean, I really can’t say. I didn’t run this combination at the tire test from what I gather, so we’ll have to see how it plays out. I mean, when you go tire test – when we were here, it was cool and rainy. Hard to put a whole lot of stock into what we felt there and, you know like I said, I never ran the actual – the exact combination that we’re going to run here this weekend, so it seems that typically when we do tire tests, everybody – the four or five cars or whatever, who’s there – are usually on a different agenda just running through things for Goodyear and at the end of the day it’s their decision to make what they feel the best tire is bringing back, so I really don’t have any thoughts on it until we get out there and race this weekend and see what it does.”
How do you feel about potential changing the downforce package for this track in August?
“I don’t know. I mean, it’s hard to say what it will do here. We’ve only ran that once at Charlotte. It’s so different than here, but – yeah, let’s see how this weekend, let’s see how this race goes first and we’ll worry about that when we come back in August.”
Can you talk about the track’s historic significant as they celebrate 50 years?
“Oh, I didn’t even know that. It’s pretty cool, so, yeah I mean, the special part of the country. I love coming up here for a lot of different reasons, but definitely a lot of great fans in this area. For sure you think about the auto manufacturers in Detroit and what this track means to them and has for years and years and years, so it’s a unique race track. It’s a place where car design and horsepower and aerodynamics and all that come into such play that it’s obviously always been special to those manufacturers, so cool to be up here in this part of the country and congratulations to the track on a great history and continuing that.”