Pole winner, Truex and other Toyota drives talk about Texas qualifying

Toyota Motorsports

Pole winner Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
Pole winner Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Qualified: 1st What does this pole position mean to your race team? "It means we got the pole and are in the Shootout next year. It means a lot for me to get a pole for all these guys, NAPA and everybody that has stood behind us like Michael (Waltrip, team owner) and Rob (Kauffman, team owner). I mentioned it earlier, we've come a long way. I feel like we're really starting gel as a team, we're starting to get where we need to be. We're not there yet, but this is one step in that direction. Hopefully we'll be standing over here in victory lane shooting guns tomorrow night celebrating."

How important is it for you to get a win with this team? "That's our main goal. We're going to go over there now and celebrate this a little bit. We can do it, this team's good enough. I'm having so much fun again coming to the race track and driving these cars."

Do you feel like a win is right around the corner for your team? "Yeah, I really do. Our NAPA Toyota has been so good these last 10 or 12 races. It's just a credit to Michael (Waltrip, team owner) and Rob (Kauffman, co-owner) and everything they've put into this race team and all the help we get from Toyota and TRD. Just everybody involved has put a lot of effort into this deal. We took a step back towards the end of last year and really started to do things differently and we started to see the benefits of that at the end of last year. We all know during the off season the team brought in some key people -- just have a good thing going. I have great teammates, all our crew chiefs really get along and we're all pulling in the same direction - it's a lot of fun.

How was your qualifying run and what's your outlook on Saturday night's race? "It's been a good weekend so far for our NAPA team. We've had a lot of speed in our race car and I felt really comfortable going into this qualifying session that we had a shot at it. I was really happy with our qualifying runs yesterday in practice. Normally, going into qualifying, I don't tell people I think I have a shot at the pole unless I really, really know it. I was in the motorhome with my dad a few hours ago and he said, 'What do you think?' I said, 'I think I have a shot at the pole.' It's pretty cool that it worked out. I'm proud of my team - proud of everybody on my NAPA Toyota and everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) for what they've been doing for us. Michael (Waltrip, team owner) and Rob (Kauffman, team owner), we talked about this earlier, its just so much fun coming to the race track right now with the cars they're bringing and the team work and the communication we've got going on. Chad Johnston (crew chief), he's been such a great leader of our 56 team and hopefully we'll be back in here tomorrow night after the race having some fun."

What do you think of the gun trophy that Texas provides the pole sitter? "Well, it will never get shot, I can tell you that. It will be on the wall right next to the shotgun I got here a few years ago. It's just a really cool trophy. Something that is really special to get and take home. Again, I'm excited to be here and proud of my team. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow. I feel like we have a really good race car. This has been a track that has been good to me in the past, so hopefully we can have a good night."

What does it feel like to know you are close to having a break through on the race track? "I can't even explain it. I'm just blessed to have the team I have -- to be in the position I'm in. It makes you think back to those days that weren't going so well and say, 'Heck yah, I worked my butt off through those days.' Of course, we're not there yet. We still have work to do. I just feel good about my whole race team -- everything we have going on right now. I told you earlier that I feel like it should be 2008, not 2012 and that's just because of how my team is performing. We were here in the fall 2007 and sat on the pole and ran third and ever since then it's been a really rocky road for me. It feels good to come back here. This track here is really where we started off the turn last year of having speed and having it consistently. We came here last year with some new stuff and we were able to have a good performance and really carried that through the whole end of last year. That's really what catapulted us to where we are now. It's good to come back here and kind of capitalize on that, get a pole and get that out of the way and now we can go racing and try to get to victory lane."

id you do something different today during qualifying to get the pole? "I just drove it a little harder - I'm just kidding - no. I'm not the greatest qualifier. My biggest problem in qualifying is I tend to over drive the car and there's some days like today when the car will take that. Two weeks ago at Martinsville, I had a shot at the pole and I knew it and I over did turns three and four and I screwed it up and I started 15th. There's a fine line between getting everything and trying to get more than the car will give you and today I was just able to balance that out. We had a great race car, I had a lot of confidence going into qualifying. Chad (Johnston, crew chief) made the car the way I needed it to be and we were able to put it all together."

How relieved were you that no drivers took the pole from you? "It's fun. Anytime you can come out here and do anything, whether it's practice or qualifying or the race and come out on top, that's a big accomplishment. It's not easy to get poles in this series. It's not easy to do anything better than everybody else out there. I'm proud of today, I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish - it's a big deal for our team - it's a big deal for all of us. We're going to get the best pit stall for tomorrow night and we're going to start up front at a place where track position is important. There's no better way to start off the weekend than getting a pole. It's just fun - it's exciting."

Are you more focused this year? "I don't know. I have a lot of confidence right now to be honest. I think there was a point in time last year when I was able to say finally I could forget about all this crap and start driving again. I've got so much confidence in our team that I can really let them - I really trust in them. The weekends are so much less stressful for me right now than they have been the past few years. I don't go to sleep on Saturday night nervous about the race because I don't know what my car is going to do. I just have a lot of confidence in them. I try to do the best job I can do of being part of the team and giving them the proper information to make our cars faster and I feel like I've done a better job at that. I've said this to people before and they look at me like I have three heads. It's a whole lot easier to run good than it is to run bad. That's just kind of where we're at right now. There's a lot of pressure off of me and I'm able to go out there and just drive the cars and have fun with it."

MARK MARTIN, No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Qualified: 4th Was that a good qualifying run? "I'm pleased with what I'm driving. Just love driving for this race team. Every lap can't be your best or your best wouldn't be your best -- and it wasn't the very best. It wasn't a Phoenix lap, but it wasn't shabby. I wouldn't want to do it again."

Are you pleased with your car for tomorrow's race? "Pretty happy. We're still learning. We're still trying to learn a little bit about -- I'm trying to learn the cars a little to help them a little bit with tire longevity. We've got good speed. To really go out here and close these deals I got to get a little better acquainted with their cars to help them get it easier on the tires."

What do you think about Martin Truex Jr.'s pole? "I'm so proud for those guys and for him. That's sweet. A win for MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) is right around the corner."

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office March of Dimes Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Qualified: 13th How was your qualifying run? "We were really loose. We really been working on trying to tighten our car up over the last really hour of practice and just could never get it tight enough to where I wanted it. On the qualifying run it was really loose still. Actually, I'm surprised we ran as fast as we did, even though the conditions aren't the best."

Do you have a good race car? "I feel like we'll be okay. I didn't think we were a 'ball-of-fire,' but I thought we had a competitive car. Just need to work obviously on tightening it up so it's a little bit more drivable."

Was the wind a problem during qualifying? "I didn't really feel it much. You feel it out here (in the garage). It didn't really affect us in the car."

JOEY LOGANO, No. 20 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Qualified: 14th Were you pleased with your qualifying run? "Well, we're not first, so we can't be too pleased with it. I felt like we got all we can get out of the car there. We just need to work on our balance a little bit more there, but overall I thought it was pretty good. "

Do you have a good car for the race? "You never know here. It changes so much. Whether the sun is out or not -- we practice during the heat of the day. I think we'll learn a lot tonight that will help us tomorrow."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Qualified: 17th Were you pleased with your qualifying run? "Yes and no. It was decent. Definitely not what we wanted. We need to be way faster than what we ran there. We missed about two-tenths worth. Just too loose. Couldn't get the throttle down as good as I needed."

Did the overcast skies help during qualifying? "It was the same for everybody, so there's not much difference right now."

How is your car for tomorrow's race? "Well, we have struggled really bad most of the weekend. There at the end of practice we finally got it to where it was decent and seemed to run some pretty good lap times at the end. So, hopefully we can get it to repeat tomorrow like that."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Qualified: 18th How was that qualifying run? "It was better in practice. Probably still going to need quite a bit more. But, we're ready for the race tomorrow. We had a good practice the other day. Can't wait for tomorrow."

LANDON CASSILL, No. 83 Burger King Toyota Camry, BK Racing Qualified: 28th

BOBBY LABONTE, No. 47 Bush's Beans Toyota Camry, JTG-Daugherty Racing Qualified: 30th

JJ YELEY, No. 49 JPO Absorbents Toyota Camry Qualified: 36th

TRAVIS KVAPIL, No. 93 Dr. Pepper Toyota Camry, BK Racing Qualified: 37th

MIKE BLISS, No. 19 TriStar Motorsports Toyota Camry, TriStar Motorsports Qualified: 43rd

DAVID STREMME, No. 30 Inception Motorsports Toyota Camry, Inception Motorsports Did Not Qualify

JOE NEMECHEK, No. 87 AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota Camry, NEMCO Motorsports Did Not Qualify

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Martin Truex Jr.
Teams Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing , BK Racing , TriStar Motorsports , NEMCO Motorsports
Tags bowyer, busch, hamlin, logano, toyota, truex, waltrip