Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Richmond International Raceway – April 28, 2017
Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media at Richmond International Raceway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Is it safe to say you’re a fan of the stage racing?
“Oh, yeah, for sure definitely a fan of the stage racing. It’s been good to us to far and looking forward to hopefully getting some more points this weekend.”
Have you had a chance to look at last week’s speeding penalty because you said it was probably going to break your heart?
“Yeah, it wasn’t as close as I thought. It was .45 miles per hour, so that’s a pretty big speeding ticket these days.”
Why do you think this year in particular just in general there’s been such a proliferation of speeding penalties?
“Yeah, I think obviously the segments have a big part in the speeding penalties. I think also on top of that, just everybody is just trying to get everything they can. Everybody gets the data after the races they see if they’re the fastest car on pit road all day or if they’re 20th all day. I think everybody is just constantly pushing those limits. I don’t know that we need to change anything. I think it’s good that we have speeding penalties here and there or we have things going on. It’s a really hard, tough responsibility for the drivers to manage those pit road lights on the dash, and I think it adds an extra element of just somewhere where the driver can make a difference and in a good or bad way. I like the way it is. I think it’s good. We typically don’t get many speeding penalties and it definitely hurt last week to get one while in position to possibly win, but that’s the way it goes. Those are the breaks. I think we need to keep it difficult. Pit road speed limiters I think would just take an element out of the racing and I don’t think that would be good.”
Can you talk about the impact Dale Earnhardt Jr has had on you?
“Oh, man, as far as the impact, I mean, there’s a very high possibility that I wouldn’t even be sitting here right now if it wasn’t for him (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) giving me an opportunity back actually right here at Richmond in 2003. He’s been a huge part of the reason I’m here. He’s been a great friend throughout the years, somebody I really look up to and a great role model for young drivers. Just so many things I learned from him and so much I actually owe to him. I’m happy to see that he was able to go out his own way, on his own terms. I think as a driver that’s everybody’s dream – to not have something or someone make that decision for you. Very happy that he was able to figure out what he wants, where he’s headed next and we’re obviously going to miss him here at the race track, but he’s been a great competitor to race with. He’s been a great teammate. He’s been a great friend over the years. Most of those things are not going to change, but we’ll definitely miss him on the race track for sure.”
With all these guys stepping away and talk about the young stars, do you kind of feel like an old guy?
“I’m only 36. I don’t feel old, so that’s good. That’s the most important part I guess, but, yeah, there’s definitely a lot of young guys coming up, but I feel like I’ve got my best years ahead of me. They can keep talking about who’s retiring and who’s going to fill their shoes and hopefully I’ll be here to take a bunch of checkered flags home.”
Is that your MO to kind of just lay in the weeds and let them talk about all the extremes and you be there and kind of pick up the pieces?
“I can tell you I do not mind being that guy.”
Is there any reason that Furniture Row Racing has been better than Joe Gibbs Racing this year?
“Well, I think it’s just – there’s no real reason. We all get the same information. I guess at the end of the day it’s how you use it, how you put it to use. I think our team, Cole (Pearn, crew chief), Jazzy (Jeff Curtis), my engineer, Pete (Rondeau, competition director), our guys in general are just – right now we’re just clicking. We have a lot of confidence. Things are going well. My guys are doing an amazing job of filtering through all that information and making sure the right things are going into the car. You know, the communication between all of us at the racetrack has been a big part of that. So I mean, it’s not one thing. It’s just right now it just seems like we’re all clicking and we’re making it happen. You know, I think that the good part for those guys is that they see that. They see what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and they know it’s possible as well. Hopefully they’ve done so much for us since we moved to Toyota last year to get us going and kind of get us up to speed that it’s fun to be there and try to help those guys and show that our team is a big part of being competitive, running well, making sure Toyotas are up front each and every week and it kind of shows that they made a good decision by bringing us in and making us part of that team.”
If the horsepower is the same, is it just car‑related?
“Yeah, it’s just little things, details, driving styles, the way they’re implementing that into the cars and the setups and this sport is so much about people, so much about communication. You can have all the tools in the world. You can have race cars capable of winning. It doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to hit that magic combination every weekend. You know, for us it’s just – things are just clicking right now, honestly, and things are going well. Our guys are doing a good job, like I said, but we’ve got the confidence and the communication and things are just clicking along. Hopefully we don’t lose that. It’s hard to find when you don’t have it, but those guys have been competitive. I know a lot of their finishes haven’t really showed how well they’ve ran at times. Kyle (Busch) looked really fast last week and had some tire issues. It’ll come. Those guys are really, really good, and they’ll figure it out pretty quick.”
Can you look back to when you were a young gun and when you started speaking out, how you felt when you first came in with your personality?
“Well, I think when I started, it was a little bit different. We’d won two championships in the XFINITY Series and moved our whole team up, and it was – we weren’t really that competitive right out of the gate and we had to learn and we kind of took our lumps along the way. I think you see a lot of the young guys coming in now and they get with the right teams and I think I hit on this a few weeks ago that the way the teams work and the communication and really essentially all the teams under each roof kind of work as one these days where it didn’t used to be that way. So I think we see these young guys that get great opportunities really come out of the gate strong, competitive. We see what they’re doing. It’s been amazing to watch them. It’s almost like they’ve been out here for 10 years already. I think it’s a lot different today starting out with the big teams than it was when I did, but at the same time I remember those days like it was yesterday. It wasn’t that long ago. You know, I just remember having a lot of fun. I remember it being – feeling a lot of pressure just because it was the Cup Series, the expectations, your job was on the line each and every week it seemed like, especially back then. Definitely a lot different feeling these days.”
Were you one that wanted to let your personality out or would have asked questions or kind of been more vocal at the time or did you come in kind of holding back until you felt like you could be who you are?
“No, I mean, I was comfortable with where I was and the teams I was with and things like that, so I don’t think I’ve ever really changed my mindset or my approach that much. You know, I don’t think I’m a whole lot different today than I was then. I think I’m a whole lot smarter, but I wouldn’t say I talk any more or do things much differently off the racetrack away from my race team.”