Toyota Motorsports press release
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
What have you learned so far from this morning’s test session at Daytona? “Well, first of all, I know the off-season’s get shorter every year, but dang I’m working on 2012 already. It’s kind of crazy. I’m not sure exactly what NASCAR’s goal is -- I don’t think any of us -- they haven’t really said, ‘Here’s what we’re trying to do.’ We’re going out there and trying different packages and it feels like what they’re trying to do is put an end to this two- car draft or at least make it so we can only get together for a lap or two and have to switch or run in a pack. So far we’ve been taking the spoiler off, taking the rear spring out of the car trying to get them to be a little bit more slick, get through the air better and run faster and trying to make so they are uncomfortable getting pushed. So far we haven’t been able to get there. We’ve picked up a second and a half from what we raced here in the summertime. It seems that the faster we go, the better they drive. I think where we need to go is making the radiator smaller so we overheat faster. So far, we’re trying some things and we’ve got some smaller spoilers to go yet and less rear springs to try to get the back of the car out of the air more and try to free it up some. I believe we’re going to try a bigger plate in the qualifying run here in a little bit, too. That will be fun to go faster around here than I ever have so I’m looking forward to that. Other than that, that’s about it. Just going through some packages -- standard issue and like I said, so far everything has drove good and that’s a testament to the pavement and the grip here at Daytona. Honestly, I feel like we could run 230 miles an hour here and have the car stick and still be able to run wide open, so it’s pretty cool."
How fine of a line is there to finding out you can’t drive the car anymore without wrecking your race car? “There’s a fine line there because what we’re doing today with the tandem, it’s like what we’ll do with the tandem in the race, but there’s not 35 other cars around. When you’re in a two-car pack and you’re catching a pack of six cars, the cars drive different than they do with us being out here today with just two cars on the race track. So, there’s a little bit there still where we don’t know exactly how these changes are going to affect the cars until we actually get out there in race conditions. That’s something we talk about every week with these cars. They’re so aero-dependent and when you get in, the race the car changes just because there’s more cars on the race track. And, it’s something you can’t test for. The only way to prepare for it is really experience and kind of educated guesses. So far, it feels like we could go a lot faster and still be comfortable, but again that could change with more cars on the race track and less air on the front of the car as opposed to getting all of the air off the back of the car."
Did you like tandem racing or would you rather see it go away? “I don’t know. Honestly, I like both ways. I like the old way. The tandem is fun at times. The only thing I don’t like about it is having to rely on somebody. You talk about Cup racing and we’re all kind of racing against each other -- our team against their team -- and when you get in these plate races now with the tandem deal, if you don’t have a partner that’s committed to you and you being committed to somebody else, your chances of finishing upfront or even a chance to win is out the window. So, you have to have a different mindset going in because of that. And, so because of that, I think that’s probably a part I don’t like about it. I do enjoy getting pushed around and threading the needle and passing guys at 10 miles an hour faster than they’re going. That kind of thing is fun. The racing part of it is kind of fun. I think watching the races, I feel like the old style racing was a little bit more exciting with the 43 car pack shucking and jiving and making moves. I feel like that’s more exciting to watch and as a driver I feel like it’s harder to do that. It’s harder to win at that because there’s a lot more strategy involved in putting yourself in different positions. Where now you get behind somebody and push them as hard as you can and hope you end up at the front or you hope the guy pushing you pushes you to the front. There’s a bit more luck involved now than maybe it was before."
Are you confident NASCAR can fix the restrictor plate racing? “Yeah, there’s no doubt they’ll figure it out and I think what they’re trying to figure out is how they want to get to the end result. I think they know what they want and if they know what they want, they’ll figure out how to get it. They’re smart enough to know how these cars work. So, I think right now it’s just a matter of going through a few steps to see if the changes that they’re thinking of doing will do exactly what they think they will. I think so far, as far as the speed pickup per change, I feel like they’re right on track of what they thought it would be. At least that’s what it sounds like from talking to them. So, yeah, I feel like they have a good idea of where they want to be and before you know it we’ll all find out that they knew before we got here today probably where we were going to end up. It’s just a matter of them backing up their thoughts and their plans. I think we’ll be in good shape. It’s just up to them what they want to see."
Can you tell a big difference with the electronic fuel injection in the cars? “To be honest with you, if you didn’t know when you got in the car, you couldn’t tell a difference. The only thing that’s different is the way it starts. You don’t have to pump the gas like a normal carburetor. You just flip the switch and crank it up like a street car. That’s the biggest difference I’ve noticed. Now, we had some growing pains with it being a new system back earlier in the testing where we had some issues. The same kind of issues you deal with -- a carburetor stubbles, running bad in the pits, flooding turning to the right and things like that. For the most part all of that stuff has worked out and it’s really no different than the carburetor. Along the lines of fuel mileage and things like that I’m not exactly sure where that all is right now. All of the guys at TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and Toyota have done a good job getting the system figured out and implementing all of the new changes and things. It’s something I think they are constantly working on and still working on. I know they have some new stuff on the car today. As far as being behind the wheel, it’s really not a big difference."
Have you had any hairy moments on the track with the smaller spoiler? “No. So far, like I said, everything has been stable. I honestly feel like the faster it goes the more stable it is in the corner. What happens here is the track has so much grip and so much banking that you don’t have to put a lot of wheel in the car and so the tires, you don’t really have a lot of load against the tires and it’s almost like the tire tries to turn -- move around on the wheel a little bit because you’re not constantly loading in enough to keep it turned one way. And, the faster you go the more lateral load it puts in the tires and it kind of stabilizes the car. It actually feels better the faster we go, so far. I’m sure there will be a point where it doesn’t feel better anymore. I’m not sure where that is yet. Maybe we will find that out here this afternoon. We’ve got a few more steps to go with speed so we’ll see what happens there."
How much negative feedback have you had from your fan base regarding the two-car tandem racing? “Honestly, I think it’s kind of been split. I think half of the people really like it and half of them like the old style better. I thought that the racing has been good like I said, I do think the old style is a little bit better to watch but again if the fans want it to be the old way NASCAR is going to figure out how to make it the old way. That’s why we’re here. But, I think it’s kind of been split decision. I think a lot of people enjoy the new way and a lot of people liked it the old way better."
Did you volunteer to test here today or were you asked? “I just do what I’m told. I follow directions, I do what I’m told and -- honestly, I was asked to do it and obviously it’s part of my job to do. I’m not going to say I hate it and I came here to change it. At the end of the day, it’s NASCAR’s decision. It doesn’t matter what we think about it to some degree. I’m just here to help them get the data they need and give them the feedback to the best of my ability of what I’m feeling in the car and what the changes are doing and they’ll make their decisions based on that."
Do you have any ideas you would try to eliminate the two-car tandem racing? “In my opinion, there’s only two ways to get rid of the two-car draft. One is to take the bumper off the back of the car so you can’t push it or two, make it so you can’t push because you overheat too fast. Those are the best two options. Making the cars uncomfortable is not the best way to go because I feel like with the repave here and the repave at Talladega we’re going to be going upwards of 220 miles an hour to make them get uncomfortable and then of course we all know what happens -- cars get off the ground and that’s a bad thing. So, keeping us from being able to push is the only option. Making us fast and uncomfortable is not an option because it’s not going to be -- the speeds will be too high when that point comes. Small radiators which I know they know. They’re talking about it, they understand that. I think it’s just a matter of them going through the season, seeing the two-car tango as its called and seeing do the fans really not like it? If they don’t like it then we’ll get rid of it and I think that’s what we’re seeing now is steps to try to figure out where exactly we stand and how we’re going to eliminate it and if we’re going to eliminate it."
Who is your pick for the Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead? “Boy, I don’t know. It’s anybody’s race. Based on prior seasons I would have to go with Carl (Edwards) just because of the way he ran there last year. I was fortunate enough to have a really fast car there last year and lead a bunch that race and Carl was right there. It was me and him battling for the first 300 miles. We got a flat tire and he ended up winning. He was really strong. Based on that, I’d have to give him the edge, but the way the 14 (Tony Stewart) has been running, I mean, they’ve been stellar. I’d say it’s going to come right down to the end and I’m looking forward to seeing it."
Are you a threat to win this weekend at Homestead? “I think we are. I truly believe that. I get kind of tired of saying a win is right around the corner because we’ve been close. We’ve had some points in the season where we’ve been close and had cars capable of winning. I feel good going down there after the run we had there last year. We took a brand new car to Texas that we’ve been really working on for a good part of this season, the last few months building a new chassis with some new stuff. We took it to Texas and I was really happy with it. It was one of the better mile-and-a-half cars that we’ve had all year long so I feel like we’ve made some strides there. It would sure be nice to end the season on a high note so we’re taking that car there. Homestead has been a good track for me. I’ve run upfront and finished second there a few times and I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully we can get to victory lane before the year is over."
Are you looking forward to working with Mark Martin next season? “Well, I’ve worked with him before so it won’t be anything new. I know Mark (Martin) very well. I have a lot of respect for him and what he’s accomplished obviously. He’s definitely been paying more attention to us the last few weeks. We’ve been talking more about our cars, this and that about how we’re running and things we need to look at, things we’re good at and things we’re bad at. He’s definitely been paying more attention. Once we get the season over with I’m sure hopefully he’ll spend a little bit more time around the shop and we’ll kind of get to talk about things and see what his thoughts are and everything. Yeah, looking forward to it and looking forward to him and Clint (Bowyer) coming over and hopefully come out of the box strong next year and have a good season. I do need to add, I say this every time a question comes up, is the deal with David (Reutimann) I feel terrible for him. He’s become a really, really good friend of mine and I have a lot of respect for him as a driver and as a person. I hate to see him go. He’s been an awesome teammate for me and like I said we’ve become good friends so I hate to see him go and I hope he finds something good for next year."
JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What have you learned so far from today’s test session at Daytona? “We learned that when you take a spoiler out of a race car at Daytona it makes the car go faster. We were going 206 or 207 or so. We’ve been doing that, taking the rear spring out of the car and just taking downforce away from these things. Trying to get away from that two-car draft. We’re slowly getting away from the two-car draft, making it harder to do it. I guess we’ve made gains today because that’s what NASCAR is looking for."
Have you noticed a difference with the new electronic fuel injection in the race car? “No, we can’t really tell much at all, but that’s a good thing."
Do you like the two-car tandem racing or would you like to see NASCAR go back to pack racing? “I think either way is about the same. We’re out there racing each other either way just two different ways of doing it. I think the fans liked it more the other way I guess so that’s why we’re here changing it back. It’s going to be hard for us to get away from it now. I think everyone has learned so much and got so good at it and then realized how much faster it is -- it’s going to be like this for a while now."
What do you personally think NASCAR needs to change to get away from the two-car drafting? “Try some of the things that we’re doing now. Maybe move the grill up a little bit so you’re getting no air when you’re pushing and you could only push for a straightaway or something like that. It would need to be a good combination."