Daytona 500: Truex Jr - Media Day visit

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES DAYTONA MEDIA DAY DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY February 5, 2009 MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Pre-Daytona Media Day and discussed changes with his team...

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
DAYTONA MEDIA DAY
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
February 5, 2009

MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Pre-Daytona Media Day and discussed changes with his team as a part of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, how the newly formed organization is progressing, his thoughts on the upcoming season, the economy and other topics.

DOES YOUR TEAM FEEL LIKE A DEI TEAM? "I'm not sure. A lot of it feels the same, but a lot of it feels different. I think the thing that gets me through it all is having the same guys I've worked with for so long with Bono and all them. I really don't have to worry about a lot as far as the race cars go and whether or not they're doing their job because I know they are and I have a lot of confidence in them. That helps through the whole process, but there's a lot of things that have changed and a lot of things that feel a little different I think in a positive way. It feels like it's all going in the right direction so I'm optimistic and I'm looking forward to the season. I think we're going to start off great and hopefully throughout the season we get better and better and when it comes time to get the job done we can be a contender."

DO YOU GO TO THE SHOP AND CAN YOU TELL WHAT IS DIFFERENT? "It looks a whole lot different. They're doing the same thing they do every winter -- they're fitting seats and they're building cars and they're all excited and jacked up to get to Daytona. They think they've got a really fast car for here and I do too. I think everybody kind of goes about doing this deal all the same way and people get different results. It feels good the way they're doing everything and I think they're doing it all right. You know how it is, every time you do something you can always look back and make it better and I'm sure it will take some time to make everything just perfect and the way they all want it, but so far it's going well I think."

ARE THERE THINGS THAT GANASSI HAS BROUGHT THAT YOU FEEL WILL MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE? "I think you have to ask Bono -- he would know more than I would because all I see is people walking around with parts and pieces and assembling some cars. I don't really get into all the details like he does, but it seems really organized. I like the way that the shop's set up as far as not only all the guys working together on the floor and on the race cars, but upstairs it seems to be and flow nice. Chip's (Ganassi) around there a lot and I think that's important to a lot of the guys, especially our guys that maybe haven't seen that type of leadership before. It's important for them to see that. I think it's going well and I think it's going to be just fine."

IS EVERY RACE STILL AN ADVENTURE? "Since the COT came out -- yes. Since we started racing that car every week I think it's been pretty interesting."

ARE YOU FEARLESS? "I think you do it for so long that the fear just is something you don't even think about. It's possible that it's there for some people and I think every once in a while I surprise myself, but I don't really get scared and I don't think that's ever there. I think it's just something you get comfortable with."

WHAT DO THE FANS NOT SEE WHEN YOU'RE IN THE RACE CAR? "Seeing and feeling is two different things. I do a lot of racing online and you can't compare the two when it comes to the feel. You can when it comes to seeing and using your brain, but when it comes to the feel it's a lot different and that's where the tough part comes in. It's easy to sit in the chair on the computer and drive into the corner and about 200 mph and get loose and drive through it, but when you're doing it and you're sitting in that car it's a little different. That's the difference is not being able to feel what's going on and having the sense of speed and the feel of the sense of the edge and how close you really are to that all the time."

HAS HUMILITY HELPED YOU TO RISE IN YOUR CAREER? "It helps everybody -- I think everybody comes here and you do get a few reality checks real quick. It's been tough, we've had our ups and downs just like anyone, but I enjoy what I'm doing. It's a huge challenge and that's probably why I enjoy it so much."

WHAT HAS THE LAST FEW MONTHS BEEN LIKE FOR YOU? "The name of the team is hard to say -- I haven't even tried it yet. The patch is different, but so far it has gone well. I think they've done everything they possibly could right in the situation that they were in. They had to do what they had to do to survive and in doing that I think it's going to make all the teams that came together better. I think my team's going to be better, I think the 42 is going to be better, I know the 8 is going to be better and I think putting us all together ended up being a great fit. I know I'm looking forward to working with Juan (Pablo Montoya) and with Aric (Almirola) -- he's got a great future and it's going to be interesting seeing how Juan approaches things, he's a firecracker no doubt so it's going to be fun to work with him. I think it's going to be good, I think it's going to be better than it was last year. This is the most excited I've been about my teammate and my whole team situation in a lot of years. It's going to be cool."

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR DECISION TO COME BACK TO THE TEAM? "You can't ever second-guess anything. No matter what the situation I'm going to do the best that I can do and try to win every race I can. I believe in my race team and they are as good as anyone out there -- there's no doubt. There are some things we need to improve on from last year, but I think we're moving in that direction and we're going to do everything we can to be successful."

WHAT WAS MISSING LAST YEAR FROM MAKING YOUR TEAM A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM? "One of them was luck -- we had some crummy luck. You can't blame it on that and even without that I think we could have and should have made the 'Chase.' We ranked around 12th in performance as far as that rating thing goes, but there was some things with tires blown and engines and getting in other people's wrecks. Stuff is going to happen, but when we got behind -- we went into the summer and we were sitting seventh or eighth in the points and we were doing well, we were consistent, we were top-10 each week and when we had all that bad luck and fell behind in the points, we weren't good enough to make up big chunks. We were still running eighth to 10th to 12th and still having the bad things happen. When we lost Bono and had the penalty of 150 points it just sealed the deal for us. It was too much to overcome. We were good, but we weren't great. We just couldn't ever get over that hump. I think we could have made the 'Chase' if things had gone a little better and we had made some better decisions and didn't have so much crummy luck, but looking back we still weren't going to be a contender like we were in 2007. We weren't that team so that's what we're working on -- we're working on just being better each week -- being more consistent and hopefully building faster cars so when it comes time to step it up we can get over that hump and do it."

ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THIS ORGANIZATION? "It's new with a lot of new things so we'll just see how it goes and how it shakes down. So far it feels good and it's comfortable. At the end of the day we have to perform better than we did last year. We don't need a quantum leap; we just need to get better in each aspect. Certainly a little bit of luck would help, but at the end of the day we need to run better and be faster and more competitive than we were last year."

WILL THIS SEASON BE DIFFERENT BECAUSE OF THE ECONOMY? "It's already affected everybody I think and its going to change things. It's already changed teams -- it's changed my team, its changed drivers, sponsors, owners. I think when we get to the track all things are going to go back to where they've always been. It's going to be competitive -- there's no doubt. This is still Sprint Cup -- it's still going to be the elite racing series in the world no matter what. You've got all the same drivers, the same teams and the same guys. I think people around and in the sport are working harder now than they ever have. I think it's a big reality check. If we can get all the fans to the race track and have the support that we've had through the years then everything is going to be just fine I think."

HOW WOULD GENERAL MOTORS CLOSING AFFECT YOU AND THE SPORT? "That certainly wouldn't be good, but I'm just thankful for now that they're still here with us."

HOW HAS HAVING CHIP GANASSI AROUND CHANGED THINGS? "I think it's important for the guys at the shop, as hard as they work to see somebody is in there and on their side. They can see the commitment from him. I think that's important for them. I was in there and we were fitting a new seat and one of the boys on my team is a big Steelers fan and they had just won the AFC championship game and they were going to the Super Bowl, he's from around the Pittsburgh area and Chip was down in the shop and he asked Chip is he was going to the Super Bowl. He said he laid off a lot of people this year and he was not going to get on a jet and go to the Super Bowl. That impressed me right there -- that is the kind of thing that I want to hear if I was in there working nine to five six or seven days a week and just putting everything I had into it -- that is the kind of thing I would want to hear from my owner. I think it's going to be a great addition for our guys and it's something they haven't see a whole lot of in the past few years and I think that's going to be great for them."

DID YOU SEE TERESA EARNHARDT IN THE SHOP LIKE THAT? "No, everybody knows that -- not really. She's always there, but she's like a ghost that walks around if you see her. She's upstairs taking care of the business stuff, but you never see her. She doesn't come in the shop much. Can you blame her? What is she going to do? Does she understand how to work on the car? Probably not. I can understand, but it's definitely been a little different and I think it's going to help, for sure. She's still a big part of the team and making business decisions and all that and having her name on it, but having that presence in the race shop with the racers and the guys that grew up turning wrenches -- its important."

DOES THIS CAR NEED TO BE LOOSE TO GO FAST? "You can't be tight, but there's a point where too loose is slow. You still have to have the grip. Free is good and sideways is not. You've got to be loose, you've got to be free and you can't be tight. I don't think there's anyone here who likes to be tight in the Cup series. I think some guys like to be a little freer than others. We fought a problem last year where we could get our car really fast, but we couldn't keep it fast. We would get really good in happy hour, we would start the race really good and be good and loose, but the track would get away from us and we would get really loose and then we couldn't run with them anymore."

WAS IT A TIRE ISSUE OR A SET-UP ISSUE? "I think it was a little bit of both. Our whole combination just didn't fit. Our cars would change a lot throughout a weekend and it seemed like the good guys -- the 48, the 99, Kyle (Busch) when he was real strong - they were fast all weekend. It didn't seem like to me that they had to make huge compromises like I did. We would get to the track and we would be really, really tight, we would be a little bit slow, we would work on it, work on it, work on it and get it good and we would be fast. Then it would go away and we could never get that consistency in our car, it just changed so much throughout the weekend that we were constantly fighting it and fighting it when the track would change we could get there, but then it would change and we would start all over again. It was like we would never hit on the combination that was consistent throughout track conditions and that was something we would work on all winter. If we can figure that out a little bit better then it will pay huge dividends for us."

HOW DO YOU STILL MANAGE TO HAVE A LIFE WITH ALL THE STRESS INVOLVED IN RACING? "It's easy for me. I don't worry about a whole lot. I try not to anyway. This winter was tougher than any as far as being home a lot, having a lot to worry about. It was more stressful because of all the things that were changing and usually everything is just set in stone once the season starts and you're just ready to go. This time there was a lot of question marks for me and I had to ask a lot of questions and be around a lot so I knew exactly what was going on."

ARE PEOPLE UNDERESTIMATING YOUR TEAM THIS YEAR? "I hope they are. I hope we come out of the box and surprise people. We've done it in the past and I think we can do it again -- that's certainly our plan. How we do it is the question. Until you do, there's no sense in worrying about it or even talking about it, we just have to do the job this year that we didn't do last year."

HOW LONG WILL YOU RELAX BEFORE WORRYING ABOUT CONTRACTS FOR NEXT YEAR? "Last year it was different because I was at a cross-roads and there was so much stuff I was worried about on the racing side. We came off 2007 just awesome. Things were going so good and last year we kind of stumbled a little, but we were still going to make our move and honestly when it came time to do that I hadn't even thought about it yet. That was a weird position to be in so I plan on being a little more prepared this time. I'm going to know what I'm doing before it comes time to do it. I'm going to know what's going on. Last year was just so different and I was so focused on what I was doing with the races and the cars and the tracks that I just really didn't know what I was going to do. It was like, 'man, I have to make this decision and I don't even know what I want to do yet.' It was hard and it took a little longer than I thought and it was a lot harder than I expected it to be. It was the hardest one I have ever had to go through for sure. I don't expect this year to be like that."

DID THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO PICK UP YOUR OPTION ON YOUR CONTRACT? "The end result is that I'm still here. I agreed to stay -- I wouldn't stay anywhere if I didn't want to be there. You can't with the way this business is, if you don't want to be somewhere then you're behind before you even get started. You have to work hard and you have to want to be where you're at and want to work with the people you're working with. That was no different last year for me."

HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO WORK WITH JUAN PABLO MONTOYA YET? "No, we went to lunch once and that's about it. I think it's going to go good. He's a good guy; I've talked to him in the past. No question of his commitment and what he's trying to accomplish so I think he's going to be a good teammate for me and our teams are interacting really well so far and I think that's going to be a huge key in making our stuff work together."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing