Continued from part 1 JOHN ROBERTS: We have a driver with us today that fits the bill in a lot of things we've been talking about. Martin Truex, Jr. knows how important it is to have a great pit crew. Last year's five members claimed ...
Continued from part 1
JOHN ROBERTS: We have a driver with us today that fits the bill in a lot of things we've been talking about. Martin Truex, Jr. knows how important it is to have a great pit crew. Last year's five members claimed individual champion honors in the Pit Crew Challenge. This year his No. 56 NAPA Toyota crew is on a roll as well. They won the Precision Pit Crew Award at both Las Vegas and Atlanta. That means his Toyota spent the least time on pit road. That way Martin couldn't twit or tweet anything bad about the crew. He probably twitted they were good.
Martin also knows something about the fan vote as well. It was back in 2005 Martin was voted in by the fans and had the honor of advancing up into the Sprint All-Star event. It is my pleasure to the present driver of the No. 56 NAPA Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, Martin Truex, Jr.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: The excitement is already building. You can tell. You watch the videos. You see all these things. This is really a truly exciting event for the drivers and teams to be part of. I've been fortunate enough to race in this event three times, been voted in, raced my way in and qualified my way in by winning a Sprint Cup event. I can tell you this is truly an event we all want to be a part of. We think it's great. It's awesome to get the pit crews involved.
The changes this year are going to be incredible. I will be campaigning this year for the fan vote as we stand here right now. Since we're kicking all this off a little bit early, I need to encourage all the fans to vote for their favorite driver, not mention any names, Martin Truex, Jr., obviously (laughter). But we look forward to it. It's a great event obviously. All these people, thank you to Sprint for all they do for us, make these events exciting. This is truly a no-holds-barred, best-of-the-best of Sprint Cup racing going at it in a Shootout for a million bucks. Doesn't get any better than that. We want to be a part of it. Thank all the fans for voting in advance, hopefully. We look forward to seeing you.
Obviously of the changes with the pit crew thing, look forward to that, too. I've got the best crew on pit road this year. They've showed that the last two weeks with the Precision Pit Crew Award. Hopefully I get a chance in those last 10 laps to show what they can do. Thank you.
JOHN ROBERTS: We encourage everybody to vote. We won't mention any names about who to vote for. The neat thing on the years have been the campaigns the drives have come up with. Since we have more time, we look for the drivers and teams to come up with creative ways to get votes.
I want to invite our four special guests to come up here and we'll open up the floor to questions.
Q: Robin, last year the double-file restarts were the last 10 laps. Like races now, are they throughout the All-Star Race?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Yes.
Q: Not just the last 10 laps?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Yes.
Q: Is it three attempts at a green-white-checkered if you have to go to that?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: All the rules are the same till we tell you that they're different (laughter). Right now they're the same. Vote early and often.
Q: Martin, you follow other sports. Talk about how you think the All-Star event for NASCAR stacks up against what you have seen of other sports having All-Star events?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, I think for us, the All-Star event is something we all want to win. We put a lot of effort into it. I think not to say that other sports, they don't. But I think if you watch, for instance, the NFL All-Star Game this past year, a lot of guys couldn't even play because they were going to be in the Super Bowl. So their best of their best couldn't even play.
I just feel like they don't put in the effort. It's not as big of a deal as it is for us. It could be the million dollars that's up for stakes. I don't know. But a lot of things. Being here at home at our home racetrack, having all our family and friends here from the teams, it's a race that everyone wants to win. It's prestigious. It's had a lot of great names win it in the past. I haven't had a chance to win it yet. I'm not even in it yet this year but hopefully we will be and we'll have a shot at it. Vote early and often (laughter).
Q: Martin, could you talk about what you think has made your pit crew so good so far, how close you are to racing your way into this thing by winning and how crushing it would be if you weren't voted in and didn't get to race?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I can tell you last year it was tough to watch. I wasn't in it. I didn't race my way in. I didn't get the fan vote. It was difficult. You know, it was heartbreaking to have to watch it on TV and watch how much fun the guys were having. It was such a great race.
You know, our pit crew has been really good. I think a lot of the guys have been together before last year and they brought in some new guys. It just made -- I'm not sure what they did to make them so good, but they're just incredible. They're super fast every week. They don't make mistakes so far. That's gone well.
As far as my team goes, I feel like we're moving forward constantly. Obviously we've only had four races together. For a new group being together, I feel like we've done well. The finishes haven't really been indicative of how we've ran, but our cars have been fast. Very happy and proud to drive the car. You know, I've really enjoyed working with Pat and all the guys he's put together. I've got an awesome team. I think we're just going to keep getting better. Hopefully we can win before it comes time to come back for this All-Star event.
Q: Martin, I understand putting the focus on the pit crews, but is starting position critical for that segment? I don't remember where Tony Stewart started last year.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I think it would be a lot easier to win it from the front. If you can gain spots on pit road, it's a no-brainer. It's going to help you. Putting a lot of pressure on the pit crews is what we face every Sunday. To bring part of that into the All-Star Race I think is a great thing.
Q: Martin, can you gain anything by running in the Showdown that you can use in the All-Star Race?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah. Track time, experience, car setup. But this place is one of those tracks we go to that really changes from daylight to dark. The Showdown usually ends at dusk and the sun is still out a little bit. Yes, you can learn some. It's great to have 40 laps or whatever that race is now, 50 laps, to feel out your car and see what changes you need to make and be ahead of the curve when the All-Star Race starts.
To say that winning the Showdown is going to help you win it is probably not a good statement.
Q: Robin, testing here next week. What are you going to be looking for?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Well, I think the teams will be looking for more than what we are. I think that we've had some really good tests over the wintertime as it relates to spoiler implementation. Coming to Charlotte, I think it's a great opportunity for the teams to get tuned up for all their mile-and-a-half races that are coming up. Also it will further impact what happens during the Sprint All-Star week. It's been quite some time since we've had a test of this magnitude at any racetrack.
You know, I think the teams will be working hard. The setup that we're going to come back with, with the spoiler, many of the teams have already got a month under their belts testing it at various places around the country.
They've got some experience and they're not coming in totally blind. I think you're going to see what we've got in front of us for the rest of the year as it relates to the spoiler.
JOHN ROBERTS: I wanted to add in for the folks at Charlotte Motor Speedway, if you have a Cup ticket for the 600 or the All-Star Race, as a fan, you can come into a special VIP zone, sit with Miss Sprint, take pictures, get a behind-the-scenes look at what this test is.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Hard card get you in?
JOHN ROBERTS: Yes. But ticketholders can get into a special VIP zone for the test.
Q: Robin, is Martinsville going to be the first official spoiler race?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Yes, it is. Yesterday morning the 83 spoilers went out the door to teams by 7:30, 7:45 a.m. Actually Monday morning. Yesterday we were at Talladega. Things are going well. So we look forward to Martinsville.
Q: Marcus, official opening of the Hall of Fame now, can you talk a little bit about the overall added benefit of those things that will be going on in addition to what already transpires in the two weeks with the All-Star Race and the 600?
MARCUS SMITH: Thanks. I think it's it really underscores how much of a Disneyworld of NASCAR that Charlotte is. It's just the ultimate race fan destination. If you go anywhere in the world, you've got the NASCAR Hall of Fame that's going to be opening up the week after the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, then we get right into the 600, and all the shops, all the team shops around the area. It really is phenomenal. For the city and the region, it's really just building on a strength we've already got. I think that is a tremendous investment from that standpoint, that we can all gain from.
It's going to be a lot of fun to go down there. I know a lot of people are planning on it. The Hall of Fame is planning on busting at the seams. With all activities, with Speed Street the week after the All-Star Race, it's going to be really fantastic.
Q: I can't remember last year, the Sprint fan vote winner, it says here the car has to be in raceable condition. One year it had to be on the lead lap. Is that different? Is that the same?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Has to be raceable condition.
Q: Was it like that last year?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: We've had numerous rule changes over the years. Do I have to go into all of them (laughter)? I can't remember that many.
No, raceable condition.
Q: Martin, could you give your reaction to the spoiler at Martinsville, also what you're looking for out of that test year?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, be nice, right? (Laughter) everything we've done with the spoiler has went really well. We had the Talladega test yesterday. That went very well. We actually ran it about two months ago down in New Smyrna on a short track. Obviously we haven't ran it where it really matters, that's mile-and-a-half, two-mile type downforce tracks. We're looking forward to the test next week really. We're going to learn a lot in those two days about the car.
My first reactions were obviously it looks better. Every car I've ran except for the last two years of my life had a spoiler on it. I feel a little bit more comfortable with it. I'm a fan. I'm being honest. I'm not scared of him (laughter).
Q: Robin, along those lines, with Bristol coming up after what happened at Atlanta, a lot of reports out there that guys were feeling like it might be a little bit more of an open season on retaliation. Are you sending messages to drivers? What's the line?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: The message that we have sent out there is they have to be responsible, all right? Actions that are way out of line, we will deal with. We're still going to maintain law and order on the racetrack and in the garage area.
We know these guys get together occasionally. Sometimes the result of that are unintended consequences, like a car getting upside down. We expect our drivers to race hard and occasionally lean on each other. I think they're capable of doing that without causing any harm, harming the show or anything else.
Everybody knows where we stand, drivers included. Sometimes a driver may act or react to something that doesn't go exactly how they want it to. I think the garage area understands how they need to race each other with a little bit of respect, so... We'll see.
Q: What do you think the chances, Martin, of you wearing white gloves in Bristol?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No. I wear yellow ones.
Q: Robin, on the Atlanta thing. Have you had time to come to any conclusions about the car getting up in the air? I know Mike had said on the teleconference that was going to be a priority to look at in the days immediately afterwards.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Well, we know why. What we're trying to do is fix that so it has less opportunity.
Some of the things that we've implemented actually this week for Talladega with the larger shark fin up the back glass and on the deck lid, some of those changes we will put into play at all of the racetracks, but it will start at the Texas race. Those are the types of things that help us with the cars at least getting off the ground.
We'll continue to work on that. We have made some gains which doesn't lengthen the hunting season by any means. We'll still have to maintain our law and order, but we have made some reasonable gains.
Q: Robin, how do you define 'a little bit of respect'?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: I think they should define it amongst themselves. My idea of what a little bit is, the drivers, they know. I mean, they're in control of it. They got steering wheels. They're in control. They know what's respect and what isn't respect. They know what hard racing is. You know, some that may go overboard will learn they went overboard and they'll need to take care of some of that.
Q: Robin, can you talk about why Martinsville, why you would want to start the spoiler there?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: It's as soon as we could be ready. You could have the teams build them. They would have been ready in 10 days. But as it relates to trying to give every team enough opportunity to get into the wind tunnels, to get to the racetracks test, and for us to regulate how the spoiler goes on the car, those big templates, the big grid we use to inspect the cars, all of that had to be changed, a lot of it had to be changed.
So, you know, when we went to work, as I told you, Monday morning is when the spoilers went out, so we figure we cut it pretty close by being able to start at Martinsville. We tried. That's as soon as we could get it done.
Q: What are the dimensions? Is it 64 and a half by 4 flat?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Yes. We'll let you know if it changes.
JOHN ROBERTS: These four gentlemen will be available for one-on-one interviews. I want to thank everybody for coming out. Remind you once again, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, the spoiler tests will be going on here. Fans with a ticket to a Cup event can get in a special VIP zone. Thank you for coming out. We appreciate your time. Thank you.