Bristol: Truex Jr Friday media visit

MARTIN TRUEX, JR., DRIVER OF THE NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS IMPALA SS, met with media members at Bristol Motor Speedway and talked about the track, becoming a mentor, Dale Jarrett and much more. ON THE DIFFERENCE IN THE TRACK THAN WHAT IT WAS BEFORE. ...

MARTIN TRUEX, JR., DRIVER OF THE NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS IMPALA SS, met with media members at Bristol Motor Speedway and talked about the track, becoming a mentor, Dale Jarrett and much more.

ON THE DIFFERENCE IN THE TRACK THAN WHAT IT WAS BEFORE. "It's a good bit different. I remember the first time that I ran on it I came here and did the Nationwide test last year and the way you exited the corners was a whole lot different. The entry was a little different but mostly the exit just felt a lot wider, the track felt wider. Last year when we got in the race, and into practice even you could really see how it was wider, you could move up. The top groove worked really well which was never the case here before. Usually if you were on the bottom you were going backwards and now you can go up top and make passes and move around and do a lot of stuff. It's a whole lot better than what it was, it's a lot more fun for us drivers, there's a lot more options for us and a makes for a whole lot better racing for us guys out there."

HOW MUCH HAS THE NEW CAR CHANGED FROM THIS POINT LAST YEAR? "It really hasn't. The only thing that's changed is the teams have gotten smarter about them. They've learned more about them, they've figured out how to get them to handle better for us. But for the most part they are the same as they have always been."

ARE YOU SICK OF HEARING ABOUT THE TIRES? DO YOU JUST WANT TO RUN WITH THE GOODYEARS OR DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE THEM? "Well, I sure hope they won't bring that tire back to Atlanta. So, I'm not really tired about hearing about it. Hopefully they don't bring it back. I'm sure they won't after all the criticism they got. We'll see what happens."

ARE YOU READY FOR AN OFF WEEKEND? "Yes, absolutely. I think we should have an off weekend like every three weeks, once a month or once every two months just to give the guys a break. It ain't so much me, you know I don't mind it. These guys are never home. They work all day in the shop every day when they're home and then they come here every weekend. They don't ever get any time at home. I'm ready for an off weekend for sure."

HAVE YOU TALKED WITH ARIC (ALMIROLA) AND WHAT HE FACES PARTICULARLY AT THIS TRACK? "I think Aric's ready. He's done a lot of testing with us. I enjoy working with Aric, he's a great young kid and I think he's got a lot of talent. It's going to give him some experience at a tough place like this. He tested at Phoenix with us and ran really well, we worked well together. He absorbed information better than any young guy I've ever seen. He was more open to criticism, comments, and help. I told him two or three things and in five minutes he picked up three tenths, you don't see that very often so that's cool. I was really happy and proud of him for that. Enjoyed working with him, he's going to be good."

ON HIS NEW ROLE IN TERMS OF INFLUENCING YOUNGER DRIVERS. "Yeah, it's really neat, it's fun. It makes me proud to know that I can help people. It's exciting and new for me you know I've always had older drivers to look up to. Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. helped me the most throughout my career. People like him have done so much for my career and helped me it's cool to be able to give back and do the same thing. It's a great experience, it's very humbling."

YOU TALK ABOUT BEING IN THAT NEW ROLE MENTORING TO YOUNG DRIVERS, IS THAT A LITTLE BIT OF A DISADVANTAGE THAT YOU DON'T HAVE A MENTOR IN A TEAMMATE LIKE JEFF GORDON HAS WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON AND THOSE GUYS? "I've got Mark Martin. I mean he's not a full time driver. If there's anybody out here with more experience you need to tell me who it is."

WHAT ABOUT WHEN HE'S NOT AT THE TRACK, LIKE THIS WEEKEND? "That's the thing, when he's not here I might miss a little bit but I've been to these places enough if I haven't got it figured out by now I probably shouldn't be here. It's definitely good to have a guy to lean on all the time but 25 races is the majority of them anyhow."

ON HIS THOUGHTS OF WHERE THE TEAM IS COMPARED TO A YEAR AGO. "I feel pretty good. I think my team is right where it was last year. We kind of picked up where we ended off. Seems like for us we don't get off to a quick start, I don't know why. The start of the year we seem to start picking it up, start the ball rolling slow and pick up momentum as we go. We've had a pretty good start to the year this year, better than we've had in the past which is encouraging but we need to pick up our performance a little bit. We had another top 10 run going in Atlanta last week until we had our troubles on pit road. We want to do better than that, we want to contend for wins and we haven't done that yet. Hopefully that will start here this weekend."

ON HIS TEAM'S SHORT TRACK PROGRAM HEADING TO MARTINSVILLE. "Great everywhere but Martinsville. I've just not really figured out what it takes to race well there. I've qualified good there, I've always been good in practice. As soon as the race starts we run good for 30 or 40 laps then the track just goes completely away from us. I haven't quite figured out what I need there in practice to be good in the race. Hopefully that will come this year. We haven't been very good there in the race."

HOW IS IT AS A RACE CAR DRIVER TO BE BAFFLED BY A RACE TRACK? "It's confusing, frustrating because like I said we qualified second there last year. We've always been one of the faster cars in practice throughout happy hour and it just seems like the track takes a huge swing, huge jump come Sunday morning you know after the truck race. We'll keep digging. We're taking a new car. We're not sure it's going to qualify good but hopefully this time it will race good."

ON HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT DALE JARRETT AS A COMPETITOR ON THE RACE TRACK. "Just an awesome competitor. A guy who earns respect, everybody has respect for Dale around the garage. He's the kind of driver that people look up to for advice, inspiration. Just a heck of a nice guy and a great racer."

WHAT ABOUT AS A PERSON, DO YOU KNOW HIM WELL OFF THE TRACK? "Not too well. Enough to know he's one of the nicest guys around here."

ON COMING TO A TRACK WHERE DEI AND DALE EARNHARDT HAS HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS, DOES HE COME EXPECTING TO DO SOMETHING SPECIAL? "We think about that every week. Driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. it's a pretty big deal. I look forward to every weekend to carry on the legacy of the Earnhardt name or helping to do that at least be a small part of it. We look forward to doing that every weekend."

ARE YOU GOING TO RUN ANY MORE NATIONWIDE THIS YEAR FOR (DALE EARNHARDT) JUNIOR OR IS THIS A ONE SHOT DEAL? "Probably a one shot deal. I'm not sure. It's hard to say right now."

WOULD YOU LIKE TO RUN MORE RACES IN THAT SERIES? "I don't know. I'm kind of torn. I'd really like to, I wanted to run more before this year got started. We've had trouble finding sponsorship to run as a lot of guys have in that series. We'll see how this weekend goes with practicing, jumping back and forth. The cars are so much different, I think it might hurt your Cup effort a little. So we'll see how that goes and I'll feel it out. I'd like to run more, but I'm kind of torn between it right now."

IN YOUR OPINION, HAS NASCAR OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS LOST ITS CORE FAN AND IF SO WHAT DOES NASCAR OR THE TEAMS OR THE DRIVERS NEED TO DO TO GET THEM BACK? "I don't think they have. I think the sport is bigger than it has ever been. I think some of the fans may have changed. Some of the fans from 15 years ago might not agree with the way they're doing things now but I think we've brought in a lot of new fans. To get them back, I don't know if you ever will. Things have changed so much. The racing is better than it ever was, I think. I don't know what would turn them off other than their favorite driver is retiring or moving on."

ON HOW SPECIAL BRISTOL IS TO HIM WITH HIS SUCCESS IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES AT THE TRACK. "Yeah, it's just a neat place to come to. I always look forward to it. Even though I've had some good runs and some bad runs, it's kind of a love/hate thing. It's one of those places that's exciting to come to and you think about the possibilities every time you come of what it would be like to win. That's what we're here for."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Jarrett , Mark Martin