Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway to discuss his first win, his status with the team, restrictor-plate racing and other subjects. DALE EARNHARDT,...
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway to discuss his first win, his status with the team, restrictor-plate racing and other subjects.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR. SAID TO YOU THAT AFTER YOU WON YOUR FIRST RACE YOU WILL RUN BETTER. IS THAT THE CASE? "I kind of understood that. I think you sit back and you don't put a lot of pressure on yourself, you just kind of let things roll, let things happen the way they are going to happen. It seems to be a lot easier racing that way."
WERE THERE A LOT OF IMPROVEMENTS THAT TOOK PLACE WITH YOUR TEAM THAT MOST PEOPLE WEREN'T PAYING ATTENTION TO? "Absolutely. I think we had strong race cars all year long. I've been saying that even before we won the race and had all these top fives. I've been real happy with my race team and happy with my race cars all year long. We had a tough time there for a while getting the finishes that we deserve but we've always had good cars all year."
WHAT DID IT MEAN TO HAVE ANOTHER STRONG PERFORMANCE AT LOUDON AFTER A LESSER FINISH AT INFINEON? "Sonoma was kind of a weird deal for us. We tested the new car at VIR and we kind of fall in the same things all weekend there that we did so that was kind of frustrating. But to come back at Loudon and to run like we've been running all year was a good feeling. It kind of solidified the fact that we can do this every weekend. I think Sonoma is not one of my better race tracks, obviously, so we didn't let that bother us all that much."
IS IT TOUGHER NOW TO ACCEPT WHEN YOU HAVE A BAD RACE? "Yeah, it's tougher but we work hard. The guys are working real hard. This is the Nextel Cup Series. We're not going to finish second or third every weekend or win. Everybody out here has bad weekends and we realize that."
WHAT DO YOU HOPE THE NEW ENGINE COMBINATION WILL OFFER THIS WEEKEND? "I think our cars have always traditionally been very good. Especially here when it comes down to handling. Where we've always struggled is qualifying, making those two fast laps. Hopefully it will help with that a little bit. We can start closer to the front and that will make it a little easier on us."
TALK ABOUT THE COMPARISON BETWEEN THE DAYTONA 500 AND THIS RACE: "The biggest thing, I think, is the temperature. The race track here at this race is a lot slicker and the tires wear out more. It's more of a handling race then it is in February when it's 60 degrees out. So the guys' cars that really handle well will be the guys you have to beat, unless it comes down to 10 laps and you're down on your tires."
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY? "It's a typical mile-and-a-half track. It's a really fun track. The groove's gotten really wide. I remember last year a lot of guys were running around the top and going fast and around the bottom. They're typically the kind of race tracks I enjoy. I like where you can move around and find where your car works the best and go where somebody isn't and make a pass. So it's a fun race track to race on."
HOW DOES WINNING FOR THE FIRST TIME CHANGE A TEAM? "I think the biggest thing it does for you is get rid of all the doubt that anyone has every had or the questions that anyone has every had about 'can we do this, when will it happen?', all that. You don't worry about that anymore. You know you can win and you just have to figure out how you're going to do it again, which is almost just as tough but you don't really worry about it quite as much."
DOES WINNING ADD MORE MOTIVATION? "Absolutely. Once you get it once you want it more, obviously. But you know how to do it, you've been there, you've done it before. Everybody on the race team, their confidence is up knowing that they can get it done. They can do the job as good as anybody out here. That goes a long way."
CAN YOU PHYSICALLY SEE THAT LEVEL UP? "Absolutely. In the decisions they make, in the way the team morale is, around the shop. Everybody's excited, always pumped up, looking forward to the next thing, the next challenge and it's been a lot of fun."
WAS THERE EVERY A CONCERN FOR YOUR TEAM THAT AS SUCCESFUL AS YOU WERE IN THE BUSCH SERIES, THAT MIGHT NOT HAVE CARRIED OVER HERE? "I think some people thought that way but we didn't. I never had a doubt in those guys on that team, Bono and all the guys that were with us on the Busch car. It just took us time. It was a pretty big transition for us when we went from the Busch Series to the Cup Series and quite honestly, it just took a little longer than we thought it would to get our feet wet and to find our way. I never doubted Bono for a second and I think he felt the same way. When things aren't going that great and people say 'what would you think if you had a new crew chief' I say. I think all that just takes you a step backwards. Then you've got to relearn everything plus learn what you've got to learn to win and to get better. We've just been taking it one step at a time and we've always had that confidence that we could get it done together. It was definitely a lot swee ter when it did happen."
HAS IT CHANGED YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE CHASE AT ALL? "It just feels good that we're performing the way we should. That's the bottom line. We know we've got the stuff it takes to make the Chase. We'll keep doing what we've been doing and we'll be right there for the Championship too. It's real exciting, it's a lot of fun right now. We're having a blast coming to the race track every weekend. Once you get on a roll, man, it just keeps coming. You keep running good and everybody's having fun. It just gets so much easier, I can't even tell you. I just really look forward to each race every weekend and hopefully we just keep doing what we've been doing." IS THERE ANYWHERE YOU'RE ESPECIALLY CONCERNED ABOUT? "No, not at all. I feel comfortable at all these race tracks. The new car has been good to us; the old car we've been fast with. We've run well at short tracks, speedways, superspeedways. I think overall we're pretty consistent as far as our abilities on different race tracks. I'm real excited about it."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HAVING THE SUSPENDED CREW CHIEFS AT THE TRACK EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE NOT IN THE GARAGE? "I didn't even know that was happening. It depends on how you look at it. One way or another, the crew chief, still, even though if he's not at the track or is outside the track, he still has a big part in what goes on with that race team. He's still in the shop during the week, setting the cars up, going through a game plan on what he wants his team to accomplish throughout practice, throughout the race; things to look at as far as changes on the race car and things.
"So they'll always be a part of that race team, whether they're at the track or away from it. I don't think it makes a big difference either way."
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ROLE AT DEI NOW? "I don't know, I never really thought about it. I was just always focused on. all I ever wanted to do was win and do the job that these guys deserve - get them wins and run up front each week. Get them what they deserve. It's just been a lot of fun. The transition that people say that I'm the lead guy and all.we keep driving like we are and I'll be the lead guy and that's just the way it is. We just need to keep performing."
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A LEADER? "I think I can be. Yeah. I'm pretty easy to get along with. I enjoy working with all the guys we've got around. That's really all it takes. Good communication, being a team player and not being out for yourself. I think I've got what it takes."
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FOR SUPERSPEEDWAYS WITH THIS BEING THE LAST RACE AT THESE TRACKS WITH THIS CAR? "I don't think you'll see a big difference, to be honest with you. I'm sure they will adjust the restrictor plate to run somewhere around the speeds we're running now. We've got all the same drivers and we're still all out there trying to win and we still got all the same teams and equipment and people. That's what it's all about. It's not about what car you've got, it's about the people around you and the equipment you've got under you. So I don't see a big change in it but these cars here are a lot of fun. I really don't know what to expect with the new car on the plate tracks. We ran it at Talladega a little bit. It was similar to the Busch car with the wickers. Punching a bigger hole, having more drag and being able to suck up better. If anything, it will make the races more exciting and bigger, tighter packs."
DO YOU LIKE THE CRAP-SHOOT NATURE OF PLATE RACES? "Yes and no. When you come out on the good side of it it feels good. It's great. There's a lot of times that you don't and that sucks too. It just is what it is."
WHAT ARE YOU LEARNING FROM MAX SIEGEL AND HOW ARE YOU GUYS WORKING TO REBRAND YOUR IMAGE? "Max is a smart guy. He knows how to approach things from all different angles as far as this business is concerned. I think he brings a lot of new ideas from the music industry. He's just got a lot of great ideas. He knows the people to talk to and the direction to send people to get done what they need to get done whether it's trying to make somebody more popular or more accessible to fans and the media or to putting the right people in place to do their job. He's a really good people person and he's got a lot of great ideas."
HOW'S HE SHAPING YOU? "I'm not really sure yet but I'll let you know when I find out."
DO YOU FIND IT THAT YOU'RE MORE RECOGNIZED WHEN YOU GO OUT? "I don't know, I don't go out much so I'm not real sure. The fans have been great. I've got a lot of good things said to me from the fans which means a lot. My driver intro seems to be a little bit louder than it's always been so that's a good feeling."
FROM A CAR STANDPOINT, ARE YOU GUYS IN GOOD SHAPE WITH WHAT YOU'VE GOT BUILT FOR THE COMING RACES? "Yeah, we've got a good fleet of cars both old and new. I told Bono I've got two cars which I really like, one's an Impala SS and one's the Monte Carlo SS. I told him I just want to wear those two out and if something happens to them then we'll take out something else but I've got two that I really like right now. Hopefully we can keep running those."
-credit: gm racing