MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing

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

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

What do you think about racing at Kansas this weekend? "I'm looking forward to it. I had a good practice already today. To be honest, I look forward to going to the race track so much more right now with things going well and the team doing such a nice job. Just been having a lot of fun. Excited to be here. The car has been good so far and hopefully we'll continue the roll we've been on."

Which team and driver are the strongest in fuel mileage races? "I don't think there's as big of a discrepancy now in fuel mileage as there was with carburetors. EFI has really leveled the playing field. I know, as far as our camp goes, we were on the bad end of the fuel mileage deal all of last year and the year before -- it seems like since I've been at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) really. Now I feel like we're right there with the top guys. I think that's leveled the playing field. I think that will take some of that fuel mileage deal out of it because I think there's going to be 20 or 30 guys -- half the field maybe on the same strategy. I think it will just depend on pit stops, when they happen, if guys decide to maybe stay out or something like that. I don't think that if everybody pits at the same time that you're going to see as much of a fuel mileage game."

Why do you think some of the big drivers haven't won yet this year? "It just means the other guys are doing a good job. For us, I think our team and all three of our teams have been right there knocking on the door. I feel like one of us is going to break through soon. That's a good thing for us. This sport, the playing field is level. The competition is better than it's ever been. You see the times at some of these race tracks -- last week I think the top eight cars were running almost exact lap times for almost 90 percent of the race. It's definitely harder to win. You have to do everything right, you have to have the right strategy. You have to have a fast car and you can't make any mistakes -- one mistake will take you out of the race. We screwed up on a pit stop last week -- it was my fault, slid a little bit across the line and lost three spots and could never make it up. That was with 120 laps to go. You have to be perfect every single week at every aspect of the weekend and throughout the race to be able to win."

How do you use what happened at Texas to build on for your team? "I think for us it's definitely a building process. It's obviously built confidence in me, built confidence in the team --knowing that we still need to get a little better, but we're getting close. Our car was really good the first half of the race last week. We were off just a little bit in the second half, but again we were right there. We could see the leader all night. We led laps throughout the race -- in the beginning and the middle part of the race. It really just gives us a great outlook at, 'Okay, we're close. We need to work on a few little things here and there.' We know we're getting closer and that's a good thing for us."

Where are you in regards to looking at the Chase? "I think for us right now, we feel good about where we're at obviously. I think we're happy with where we're at in the points and we want to kind of keep doing the same thing. You have to constantly keep moving forward. You have to keep working on your cars, working on your program and you can't say each week that our cars are good and we can stop working on them -- that's not the case. The sport changes by the week, by the month and you have to keep up with it. For us, we're running good now. We're going to keep pushing and really I think that kind of the whole atmosphere at MWR is since the middle of last year, we're not good enough, we're never going to be good enough -- we always have to keep working. That's been a good thing for us. That's what's put us where we're at and hopefully at the end of the season, we'll be better than we are now and we'll be right where we want to be."

How do you keep Michael Waltrip from messing with things at the race shop? "I think he's (Michael Waltrip, team owner) been a big part of how we've gotten to where we are. To say that we're going to take him out of the mix -- that would just be wrong. He's done a very good job of putting people in the right places, letting them do their job -- not micro-managing, not telling people they are doing things wrong or things aren't good enough. He's really done a nice job or just letting people do what he hires them to do. He's hiring good people and obviously, right now the team is clicking as a whole. All three of our teams are working very well together. Scott's (Miller, competition director) is doing a great job. The engineers are all on the same page. He's done a nice job of just letting people do their job and that's what he's good at. He understands how this sport works. He understands that he's not an engineer and he's not a competition director, but he is a heck of an owner and he's done a really, really good job of putting the right people in the right places."

What races does Ryan Truex have coming up this year? "He'll (Ryan Truex) be running at Talladega next week for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) and he's got I believe six or seven more races this year with Gibbs and Grime Boss as the sponsor -- a sponsor he was able to pick up early in the season. Just looking for sponsorship. Gibbs has some more races open that they'd really like to put him in the car for and he's done a really good job in that car so hopefully he'll be able to get more races. Still looking for sponsorship to try to put together a full-time program for next year. Like I said, he's done a really, really good job behind the wheel -- he's a very smart driver, takes care of his equipment and he's fast. Hopefully, they'll be able to put him in there full time next year and he'll be able to go out and race for a championship."