Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
Are you happy to be back at Michigan? "Excited to be here. So far we've had a pretty good day in the NAPA Toyota. Just trying to continue on with what we've been doing all season long, which is having strong runs, being consistent and trying to get back to victory lane.
Excited to be here -- we had a fairly strong car in the first race here. I think we had a little bit of trouble pitting and the caution coming out a few times and fighting track position. I remember having a fast car and the track's really, really fast again and I'm looking forward to having a great weekend here and making our way into the Chase in a few weeks."
Is the race track slick? "The track was really slick like it had been sitting for a while when we first went out there. To be honest, it took really the whole practice to get any kind of grip in the race car and the race track. Every time you went out, you're getting a little bit faster, but until the very last run it was just absolutely treacherous. Not real sure what was going on there. Not sure if the trucks have a little different tire compound and then the track's sitting with that rubber on there and us trying to run on part of it.
When we did the tire test here and we raced here last time, in practice it was a little bit the same way, but never as bad as this practice was. It was kind of strange. We never really got a lot of laps on the track today. We went out there and ran a lap or two and then somebody blew up. We had a caution, it sat and then that happened again.
Just took a little while to get some grip in the track and really until our last two runs, it was really pointless to even make laps -- you just try to get out there and get some time on the tires and get some heat in everything. Hopefully, the track will come in and it finally did. Not really sure what to think for qualifying -- it's going to sit again after truck practice before we go out to qualify so it could be a pretty hairy qualifying session today."
Is the groove narrower with the new tires? "It's still a narrow groove and that's because when you come here and practice, everybody wants to run where the cars fast. You're not going to move around. It's going to take some time. Qualifying and practice, generally you don't run anywhere but the fastest groove on the track. We'll just see where it goes. At some point I think we need to figure out how to get the tracks rubberized in before we get out there to practice on them because we pretty much have one-and-a-half practice there where we only had 15 minutes that were worth running. Somehow we need to figure out how to get the race tracks more ready to go."
How does a driver sell himself in contract negotiations? "I mean there's a lot of things. Obviously, going to the past results and your relationship with the sponsors that you have or are trying to bring and you will eventually have a relationship with -- there's more to it than just driving. We all know that. Being able to come in with a sponsor and if you can bring that sponsor to a team, you have a lot of leverage and you see guys go out there and find sponsors and take them wherever they want -- that kind of thing happens. Obviously, that gives you a bit more leverage than if a team had a sponsor and was looking for a driver.
Then they're going to give you what they want to give you, so you wouldn't have as much. There's so many different things that go into it. Obviously, there's a handful of guys out there that have real big deals and everybody's deals have gotten smaller the last few years, especially with the economy and the sponsorship numbers are down. Even the big deals, the money has come down for the past few years, so things have definitely changes and you just play it by ear and you try to do what's fair for you and the team. You don't want to go in somewhere and say, 'I demand this much money.
This is what I'm worth.' You're going to lose this much more every year, because you don't have sponsorship, so you try to -- at least in my place -- you try to not necessarily go in there and try to get what you got before or more than you got before. You want to do what's best for everybody involved and in my situation that's kind of how I usually take it. I've taken pay cuts before and worked with teams before with trying to do the best we could for everybody, because at the end of the day you're working together as a team and you're trying to go out there and perform. If your driver makes all the money that the sponsor gives you, there's no room in there to make your cars faster. There's lots that goes into it."
Are you looking forward to Atlanta? "Yeah, I've been looking forward to that one for a while. Since we went to one race per year on the schedule in Atlanta, it's kind of disappointing to me. I really enjoy that track. It's one of my favorites -- a place where I've had a lot of success. I really like the fact that it's old and wore out and you can run all over it kind of like it used to be here at Michigan. I just enjoy those type of race tracks, so it's very fast, it wears the tires out, it's a lot of fun to race on and, of course, it's the headquarters for NAPA Auto Parts too, so we look forward to going there and putting on a good show for them and hopefully getting back to victory lane."
Source: Toyota Motorsports