MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How was your car in practice today? "We had a pretty good practice. The NAPA Toyota was pretty good right off the trailer. We fought being a little bit tight most of the session and we got better as we went. We still need a little bit for qualifying, but going out later tonight it will be quite different, so we'll just have to see what we can do. Chad's (Johnston, crew chief) going to hopefully tune the thing up for me and we'll get a good lap in tonight."
What is your strategy for the remainder of the Chase? "I think we just need to concentrate on what we're doing and hopefully go out there and run up front. We haven't had the start to the Chase that we wanted and last week was another one where we almost got through the big wreck and just got caught up right at the very end of it. We've just got to go out there and concentrate on what we're doing and try to have good races. Charlotte hasn't been one of my better tracks over the years, so definitely looking forward to changing that around and having a good run here this weekend. We can't change what the other guys do. We've just got to concentrate on what we're doing and we really want to get to victory lane before the year is out. We've got some good tracks coming up and hopefully we can get that accomplished."
How did you react to the Dale Earnhardt Jr. news? "I was kind of shocked to be honest. You never expect these things and certainly for Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) -- he's a good friend of mine and I'm proud of him for kind of doing the right thing here. I know it's got to be awfully tough. I couldn't imagine having to get out of the race car and I think as we've heard all day that's probably all drivers' biggest fear is something happening to where they can't drive and have to watch that car go around the track without them. Feel bad for him, but happy to know that he'll be back in a few weeks and he'll be 100 percent. Just glad he took the right precautions and most of us are probably too stubborn to do that, so kudos to him for it."
Have you ever had a concussion from a wreck? "No, not that I can remember. I've never had anything, any wreck where I felt bad the next day or anything like that, so I guess I've been kind of lucky. Obviously, we also know there's potential for danger. It doesn't matter growing up racing go-karts until racing Sprint Cup now, these cars -- they're very, very safe. And obviously they're safer than they've ever been, but there's always that risk and you go into the weekend every weekend realizing that I think and you just try to put it in the back of your mind and not think about it much. But, with things like this happening, it makes you re-think things a little bit and certainly the guys on the team will probably look at the cars a little bit harder. I know NASCAR is constantly trying to evolve the safety program and all the things they are doing and this will make them take a little harder look at things again. As bad as it is for (Dale Earnhardt) Junior, it's not a bad thing for the race cars that we are racing today. Hopefully, they'll keep working on them."
How important is the test prior to Kansas? "It's going to be very critical. We've been to a few repaves this year and that's something that's probably going to help all the teams going to Kansas. We've had more repaves this year I think than any time I've been a part of the Cup Series, so we've got a little bit of an idea what's going to happen. Some guys did some tire testing out there and we've got a good idea. I think actually the 55 (Mark Martin) went for us, so got a pretty good idea what to expect. But, the deal with repaves is the track changes so much throughout the weekend that it's going to be good to have that extra day, get some rubber down, get the track run in a bit and hopefully have an idea what kind of changes we'll have to go through throughout the weekend."
Does it feel like a long time since you've had team tests at NASCAR tracks? "It does. I kind of like not testing to be honest with you. I think the teams that are best prepared and do the best job making the race cars fast in the shop and showing up good off the trailer, which are guys have done a great job of this year having a little advantage without the testing, but it's certainly something we'll look forward to. Anytime they give us time on the race track, we'll use every single minute of it. That's for sure."
How do you feel about the potential changes to qualifying? "I don't see a difference. The top-35 aren't locked in, but yet you have provisional for the guys in the top-30 something in points or whatever. I think it's a bigger deal for the smaller teams. It's something that we obviously look into, but I don't think it's something that really changes our strategy, our game plan at all. Just keep going forward and trying to move up in the points as best we can."
How do you feel about your position in points? "I think we're 47 (points) back -- that's a long way back, but six races to go. We've got a lot of racing left. Just have to wait and see how it goes. Like I said before, we can't change what they're doing. We haven't had the start we wanted. Terrible run at New Hampshire, which absolutely killed us, and then last week -- obviously, it could have been worse, but it could have been better too. Just got a little too far behind, but you're never out of it. It ain't over until it's over. We're going to work hard to do our best these remaining races."
Source: Toyota Motorsports