MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
What has Furniture Row been doing for Hurricane relief and what is Win One Give One?
“Yeah, absolutely. Auto Owners has been an awesome partner for us. They’ve done a lot of cool promotions and a lot of cool things with our fans. This one is the Win One Give One and a fan is going to win $10,000 worth of Furniture Row stuff and they can kind of get whatever they want and then their community also is going to benefit. Furniture Row and Auto Owners are both going to donate $10,000 each to their local Salvation Army, so definitely a really neat idea for a good cause and something that I think our fans are really excited about based on the conversation that we’ve seen about it. It’s been fun, and they’ve done a lot of cool stuff for us.”
What has changed in such a short period of time that you’ve gone from new winner to being so dominant?
“Well, it feels like it’s been a long time since that first one to be honest with you. That was 10 years ago, so to me it feels like quite a while ago. But I think just timing is a lot of this sport – being in the right place at the right time. Obviously, Furniture Row, the team that we have right now, the manufacturer switch to Toyota last year, all those things have just been really good for us as a group and just continue to build on that momentum and that success that we’ve been having as a team, so a lot of it, I guess, is about timing. I felt like when I first came into the series that we were knocking on the door of being one of the guys that could win races consistently and felt like once we got there things started to fall apart. A lot of it’s timing and a lot of it’s with a great team and just things clicking and going well for us right now.”
At what point does natural competition in the garage kind of become cheating?
“Well, it’s such a difficult subject because, you know, the casual fan doesn’t understand whether it’s 50 horsepower or 10 thousands of an inch on a part that’s bolted to some other part. It’s a difficult situation. It’s something that I think is very confusing. But rules are rules, and I think when you break the rules, you have to pay the penalty. It’s frustrating as a driver and as a race fan, though, to see people just get so up in arms and so upset about something as small as some of the things that we’ve seen penalties come down for and accuse people of being cheaters and that it’s the things that get said about them is kind of way over the top and not really fair, and it’s frustrating at times to see that, even if you’re not on the receiving end of it. But again, at the end of the day, NASCAR, they have to make the rules, and they have to draw the line. I wish it was easier to convey just what these things mean, how the penalties are how the rules were broken, understanding what it does to the cars and things. It’s so confusing. There’s just so much to it. I don’t know what the right answer is, I just wish that we would focus more on the positive things in our sport than the negatives, and certainly this season and what’s gone on is such a greater story than somebody failing such a small deal like that a few times throughout the season. It’s frustrating to see.”
Do you try to win tomorrow or are you testing for the Playoffs?
“Yeah, honestly we’ll approach tomorrow night just like any other race. I think for us it’s nice to be locked in and to have a nice tally of bonus points there and, yeah, I mean, I think everything tomorrow night for us is just be aggressive. Everything is a bonus and we’ll just race the way we’ve been the last few weeks and really most of the season.”
Do you have a feeling on if Denny Hamlin’s car and whether it was 50 more horsepower or 10 thousandths of an inch?
“I can tell you that’s not why he beat us. Does that make sense? You know, so I guess the 50 horsepower comment was if you build an illegal engine, that’s cheating. And we’ve seen it, we’ve heard other people talking about this this week and today and here and you soak tires or you build a big engine. Those things are blatant cheating, but pushing the envelope on parts and pieces and sometimes things are out of tolerance, I don’t consider that cheating. I think it’s just sometimes you go too far. Sometimes things unexpected happen. Everybody in the garage pushes the rules. You have to be competitive, you know, so labeling people cheaters for failing something minuscule is harsh and again it just sheds a bad light on our sport, you know, I think. It’s just my opinion. Everybody has them and obviously we all see that especially on Twitter. I just get frustrated at times because of all the negativity and people bashing everybody about everything.”
Is there any way to prevent that?
“Well, I think they could do a better job explaining things to the fans about what it is and, you know, I also think they could if they understood a little bit better what makes a difference on these cars and really certain people want to skew here and certain people wanted these rules in place because they had an advantage in that area and all of a sudden everybody starts pushing that envelope. It’s just a tough thing to police and, again, NASCAR sets the rule and that’s the rule. But at least explain to the fans that, ‘Hey, this isn’t such a big deal.’ You know, this isn’t a half a second, a lap – this is tiny little things. It’s not blatant cheating here I don’t think, but one man’s opinion.”
How special has this year been for you?
“Oh, it’s been awesome. It’s a dream come true. It’s something I’ve been working towards for a long time and our team has as well. As Cole (Pearn, crew chief) as said before, we’ve all sucked together and it feels good to be really doing awesome together. Just hard work, a lot of great people and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be where I’m at and just enjoying every day at the race track with these guys. Hopefully, we can keep it going and continue just the momentum throughout the playoffs and hopefully have a shot at winning this first championship for our team.”
Do you anticipate any changes to the rules next year?
“I have no idea. Honestly, I don’t know. We could have the same system three more times and have a completely different outcome. I guess if I have too many bonus points, sorry.”
What have you seen out of Erik Jones just over the course of the season?
“You know, experience I think – not just from him (Erik Jones) behind the wheel, just their team in general just coming together. It was a new team this year, obviously, and just experience together, working hard and trying to really get one to go. They’ve been doing a good job on all fronts and just getting that consistency more than anything. They’ve been fast all year. They’ve just had those hiccups here and there where they don’t get the finishes or problems or things happen and they’ve had that kind of inconsistency, but they’ve been fast all year and now they’re starting to put together the results. It’s fun to see and Erik is doing an awesome job and he’s a great kid, so it’s been fun to see it.”