Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Talladega Superspeedway – October 13, 2018
Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media at Talladega Superspeedway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
What did you learn in practice and what is your outlook for tomorrow’s race?
“We only ran a handful of laps. Made a qualifying run and then checked travels. Making sure everything looked normal. When we come here, everyone says you always got what you got. It’s hard to learn a whole lot about the car in practice. It all felt normal and fine. Get ready to qualify here soon. Go to sleep tonight and pray for some good luck.”
Can you talk about your plans for 2019?
“I have plans. I’ll be racing.”
What is your outlook for Kansas next weekend considering it’s a Playoff cutoff race?
“Still too early to tell. I’d say for us no matter what the situation we find ourselves in leaving here, I feel good about going to Kansas and being able to run strong, and potentially win. It’s been a really good track for us over the years. One of our best in getting results and being able to lead laps up front. I’m looking forward to that next week. Hopefully we head up there in good shape. I feel good about that place and the rest of the schedule in general. There are a lot of good tracks coming up. This is the last big question mark for us and wildcard. I like racing here (Talladega). It’s fun. It’s been rough on me over the years. I’ve tried every possible approach. I’ve been crashed here running side-by-side with the leader. I’ve run around in the back, trying to stay out of a wreck and got in it. One of those places that I haven’t found the magic code or whatever. Hopefully tomorrow it changes.”
What is the general mood of the race team currently?
“I think those who say stuff about our team who don’t know, don’t know what they’re talking about. They don’t spend any time around guys and see the passion around what they do. The same thing that’s gotten us here to where we are as a team is the same thing that will carry us through the end of the season. I haven’t seen any reason to worry or be concerned. I think if you look in general in what we’ve done in the playoffs, it’s been spectacular outside getting in a few wrecks and some things happening to us. We’ve stepped up our performance when the playoffs started. That’s what you have to do. I am not worried at all. I think the guys are working hard and as fired up as they’ve ever been. Obviously, it’s not the greatest situation for us to be in. They’re doing a great job of being professional and keeping their heads down and trying to do what got us here.”
How much have the new tracks in the Playoffs impacted your outlook on this season and pursuit of the championship?
“Generally, I feel really good just wherever we go as a team where we can compete at a high level and challenge for wins. I wouldn’t say that the outlook changes much. We generally approach each race as its own. We take one week at a time. That’s all you can do. You can go to any track and have trouble if things don’t go your way. I don’t think there is any change in our approach from what we normally do. Martinsville is a tough short-track but we’re confident we can go there and run well. There is no guarantee anywhere you run at a track you’re going to finish well as we’ve show throughout the playoffs. I am confident in our time. We’ll go out there and try to get the job done and see what happens.”
How do your Toyota teammates and friends in the garage help you at this race?
“That’s a good question. I think certainly if you go by strength in numbers, Ford is the manufacturer here that will be tough to handle. They have caught on to doing things together. I think we set the standard at the Toyota camp a few years of working together at the restrictor-plate races to handle that. Now we’re outnumbered by quite a big margin. It changes things. At the end of the day with these races, every driver is out there to win. It’s every man for himself. There’s no more teammates or alliances. There’s no more anything when it comes to winning. Putting yourself in position to win is a different story. I think for us, we have a game plan and we’ll try to execute that and see how it falls tomorrow.”
Do you feel like a lone wolf at a restrictor plate race?
“No. Absolutely not. The team thing and the manufacturer thing, it only goes so far in these races. When it comes down to crunch time, it’s everyone for themselves.”
How cool would it be to go back-to-back for the championship?
“It would be unbelievable. Obviously, that’s our goal right now and it’s going to be a challenge. I think we’re up to it. I feel like we’re as good or better than we were last year and we’ll just have to see. There’s so many things that have to go your way. If we can just shake the bad luck and shake the fact that we seem to get in bad positions here lately, we’ll have a shot at it.”
How big of a deal is it to win at restrictor plate track?
“I don’t know, I haven’t done it. It’s crazy, I used to come here in the Busch Series days and the first three times I raced here, I won. I won at Daytona in the July race and I felt like it really wasn’t that difficult and clearly all the stars and moons had lined up at those races for me because I haven’t really been able to reproduce that in the Cup Series. I would say for me it would be a huge deal because it’s one of those styles of racing that I haven’t won at yet in this series and it’s something that I’ve really worked on and I’ve tried hard to get better at. We’ve tried hard as a team as well to get better at it and it just hasn’t been in the cards for us yet. I think for me it would be a huge deal. You want to be a guy that can win anywhere. You want to be a guy that the competitors look at you each and every week no matter what the track is that here’s a guy we’re going to have to beat. Including that aspect of it would be a big deal for me.”
Why has Kansas become a key track in the Playoffs and why are you so good at that track?
“I’m not sure why it’s played a big part. Like I said earlier, every single track we go to has potential to shake things up and has potential for big things to happen. You look at restarts today and how crazy they are and how everybody just tries to get every single thing they can get on restarts, I think that’s really what’s changed the game in the last whatever eight or 10 years or whatever, since we’ve been doing double-file restarts and Kansas is just a fast track with a lot of options groove-wise and we can spread out and run all over. That has potential to cause problems and I think that’s kind of what we’ve seen there in the past. We’ve seen some pretty big wrecks on restarts because of the fact that you can run basically three-wide, maybe even four if you can find a hole to get in. Definitely a racey track and a fun place to race. As far as why we’ve been good there over the years, I’m not sure. It’s a place I really feel comfortable at. Have had chances to win multiple races there over the years with different teams even. It was one of the places I was successful at before Furniture Row so for whatever reason it just points towards my driving style and my comfort level, what I like in my race car and it just seems to work out well there.”