Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Sonoma Raceway – June 23, 2017
Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media at Sonoma Raceway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
What’s your approach to the season’s first road course race here at Sonoma this weekend?
“I’m looking forward to the weekend. I really enjoy road course racing. I always have. So obviously it’s been a good season, like you said, a lot of stage wins, and I think it’s been going well for us. Just hoping to come in here and continue that and maybe get our first road course win as a group and my second as a driver. It would be awesome.”
Why have you guys been so good at stage wins – what’s been the secret to your success there?
“Well, I think just being fast, honestly, and just being fast, leading laps, which we did last year, as well, and you know, there was a lot of races last year where we led a lot of laps and didn’t get a great finish. So I think the stages have kind of played into our hands a little bit, just for whatever reason, kind of the way we run. I don’t know. I would say that some of it is typically we’re usually faster on longer runs, and it kind of plays into your hands to be that way to win stages because, you know, typically you’ve got to be good on the long run to win them, more so than maybe even at the end of the race when typically we have cautions towards the end for whatever reason. For whatever reason, those things have kind of played into our favor, and we’ve been able to capitalize.”
How do you expect these stages at the road course to be different than what you’ve seen already this season?
“Well, the difficulty here is going to be when do you pit and when do you – I feel like if you win the first stage, you’re probably not going to have a chance to win the race at the end. I just don’t know how it’s going to play out. I think you’re going to see a lot of guys pit before the first stage is over. Typically a road course you try to pit under green if you can. But then again, the last few years we’ve seen a lot of guys pit under caution here just because tires have been such a premium. It’s definitely going to be interesting. I don’t play strategy. I don’t do strategy. I’ll leave that up to Cole, and hopefully he’ll figure it out. But it’s definitely going to be interesting. It’s going to be a lot more difficult, I think, to call this race than it has in years past.”
Do you think stages will change the pit stop strategy for Sonoma?
“You know, honestly, I don’t know. I don’t think he has any crazy plans as of yet. And I think, again, in the last few years we’ve seen tires play such a big role in winning this race that I think it’s been since about 2013 since this was won on two‑stop, or maybe actually 2012. So it’s been a long since anyone done it on a one‑ or two‑stop strategy, and tires are going to be a big deal. So I think everybody stopped a least four times last year, and we’ll see what this year brings.”
How fast were your tires falling off?
“Very fast, yeah. Five or six laps is pretty close to at least a second, so it’s a bunch. You get out there on 20 laps, it’s going to be two or three seconds. Definitely going to fall off a lot, but you’ve just got to lay out that, what is track position worth compared to lap times. It seems different every week, but it’s going to be important to have tires, I think.”
How do you approach road racing? How do you feel about racing here at Watkins Glen, et cetera?
“Well, I real enjoy it. Actually the first racing I ever did as a kid was on road courses, so I don’t know if that’s part of it. I grew up racing go‑karts on road courses a lot, and when I ran in the Busch North Series, which is now K&N East, we ran a few road courses a year, so I’ve had a lot of experience at it throughout the years, and I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s been a unique, fun challenge for me. I think part of being good at it is enjoying it and then having success because of that. It’s not always been easy. I feel like we’ve gotten better and better each year, especially here at Sonoma. I think the first couple years it was a bit of a struggle, but I’ve learned quite a bit about the racetrack, and it’s such a unique place, it takes a few races here to kind of get it figured out it seems like. It’s been good to us over the past few years, and hopefully it’ll continue to be that way.”
How different is Daytona in July versus February, and do stage races feel any different at a superspeedway versus an intermediate track?
“It’ll definitely be different, speaking on racing in July. It’s just so hot in Daytona in July and the track just loses so much grip. Typically it’s a lot more fun to drive the cars in July than February and a lot more challenging. Stage racing at plate tracks has definitely changed it a lot. I feel like that there’s a lot less just putting yourself in position and trying to stay out of trouble. We definitely see a lot less guys riding in the back trying to stay out of the big wrecks, and it’s more fun to race at plate tracks now because you can afford to risk it. You can afford to race hard. If you do get in an accident at some point in the race, hopefully before that happened you’ve gotten some stage points, so it doesn’t hurt quite as bad at the end of the day, finish‑wise and points‑wise. There’s an opportunity there to gain some points even if you get in a wreck at the end which I think has been fun. It’s made the races there especially more interesting, I think, and that’s quite a big difference from any other track. I mean, it seems like it’s made the most difference at the plate tracks than anything we’ve done.”
How does the hot weather Sonoma has been experiencing affect the track?
“Well, it’s not as hot as we expected it to be here, which is a good thing. Sunday is going to be the coolest day of the weekend for us, so it’s good that it wasn’t 102 today or whatever it was a few days ago here, and we can kind of get a good baseline on what we need to do to the cars to race on Sunday, setup wise, so it’s definitely a good indication for us that Sunday will be a little cooler. Typically race day you lose a little grip because of more cars on the track and rubbered up. The track has been ran on all weekend so it loses a bit of grip. Today should be a good indicator of what we’re going to have Sunday, and that’s a good thing for all of us.”
Are you enjoying the stage racing – you’ve obviously been pretty good at it?
“Yeah, I mean, I think it’s been fun. I definitely was optimistic about it in the off‑season, and you know, I think it’s played out the way we thought it would, and I’ve really enjoyed it. So again, it’s been fun to be able to get points throughout races for leading laps and running up front. I mean, that’s ‑‑ it rewards people that do that, and luckily for us we’ve been able to do it more than anyone, so it’s been good. I think everybody has really enjoyed it. I think the fans have really liked it just because they feel like everybody is racing hard throughout the race. There’s no kind of sandbagging or laying back, and like we talked earlier, especially at the restrictor plate tracks. You see guys racing hard all day and hoping to get some points early just in case they get caught in those wrecks, so it’s been fun. I think everybody has enjoyed it, and it’s been a good addition.”