An interview with MARTIN TRUEX, JR.
ASHLEY JONES: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference with Martin Truex, Jr. Martin is currently 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings this season and Martin has two top-10 finishes in 10 starts at Martinsville Speedway, including a fifth-place finish last March.
Martin, as we head to the famed paper clip shaped track, talk a little bit about your outlook for this weekend.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Like last year, we had a good run there in the spring race. We had just a decent run in the fall. We kind of struggled a little bit. Always look forward to going to Martinsville. It's obviously a tough little racetrack. It's a great place to go, a lot of history. Track has been on the schedule for a long, long time. It's always fun to go there and try to run well.
I feel good going in this year. My NAPA team has done an amazing job this year giving me good racecars. The last two weeks have been a bit frustrating as far as finishing goes, but our cars have a lot of speed in them and it's just a matter of us figuring out the details. Hopefully we'll do that this weekend in Martinsville like we did the first few weeks of the season.
ASHLEY JONES: We'll open it up for questions for Martin Truex, Jr.
Q. I was wondering about the difficulty between winning Nationwide races and Cup races.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: The difference, obviously the competition level is a lot higher. The Cup Series is the best of the best. All 43 teams of capable of winning at any time.
The Nationwide Series, the depth wasn't quite as strong. It still was hard to win. We were racing against a lot of the same guys.
For me the situation was just I guess a lot different. When I came to DEI in the Nationwide Series, they were winning races. Getting in winning stuff kind of made that easier. Certainly made it easier for me to learn and kind of make a name for myself.
Obviously in the Cup Series, winning in '07, that being my best season up till now, I didn't feel like it was any harder to win then than it was in the Nationwide Series.
So I guess, I don't know, it's definitely harder, but in the right situation I don't think it's any more difficult. I think I'm a better driver now than I was then and I expect to be winning. I was beating the guys that are beating me back then. So just have to get to work.
Q. How about the length of the races?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, I mean, it's a little bit more challenging as far as the racetracks go. They tend to change quite a bit more after 300 or 400 miles than they do in 200. That's definitely a challenge.
But other than that, I really don't think the race distance makes that much of a difference.
Q. Restarts have become so critical in recent years given the rule changes. Can you give me a sense of how strategy on restarts changes depending on the kind of racetrack you're on.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, with the double-file restarts, you'll see the leader a lot of times pick the outside. A lot of places we'll go, they'll pick the bottom. This weekend at Martinsville, everybody will want the bottom. California, the leader pretty much picked the outside every time. That's part of the strategy. If you're the leader, you're lucky enough to make that decision. The problem comes when you're back in the pack and let's say your car is only good on the outside and you have four or five restarts in a row, you get stuck on the bottom and lose spots. It's difficult to make those up.
The strategy really is they're easier to pass in the pits than they are on the racetrack. If you can get three or four spots on a restart it obviously makes your job a lot easier because you have fresh tires. The field gets strung out, especially at the larger tracks. You have to get everything you can all the time, whether it's restarts, pit road, long runs. It doesn't matter. Everything is equally as important nowadays.
you're constantly reacting to what's going on around you and at the same time trying to make things happen yourself.
Q. When you're restarting particularly up front, how much are you reacting to what the guy next to you is doing?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, you're constantly reacting to what's going on around you and at the same time trying to make things happen yourself. Obviously you go with the rules. You can't pass till after the start/finish line. Really the strategy is just to get the best start you possibly can without passing before the start/finish line.
In a perfect world, you would lay back a little and get a run on the guy. As you were coming to the start/finish line, you'd get to him, be able to pull out and pass him. NASCAR, they kind of frown upon lying back on restarts. You'll hear guys get warned about it sometimes.
Really, the reaction is just trying to get a good, clean start and not get beat.
Q. You've obviously been going for that second career win for a while. Running up front so much recently, what is going through your head when you get up to P2 or P1?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I think it depends on the situation. California this weekend we were heading that direction, from 26th to 2nd. I was thinking, Yeah, this is awesome. My car's really good. But I'm worried because I'm running the top. It's already almost against the wall. In a hundred laps, there's not going to be any grip left up here, what am I going to do. It was kind of in thinking ahead mode in that situation.
I think Cup racing is always kind of thinking ahead. You don't win 'em till you win 'em. You don't think you're going to win or you don't say, Hell, yeah, this is awesome, until you take the checkered flag. That's the way it's always been for me anyway. If you ever think for a second you think you got the race won, somebody is going to beat you. You constantly have to concentrate, focus on the goal, what you need to do to get there.
I don't think anyone ever, especially Cup racing, ever thinks they have a race won because so much can happen.
Q. Once you get over that hump, do you think it will get easier psychologically for you?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I thought it would be easier after I got over the hump of the first one (laughter). They're all hard. It just hasn't been meant to be, you know. I've been in position to win a lot of races since that day in 2007, and it's been way too long. It's killing me. But I'm working harder now than I ever have. So is my team on trying to get there.
I feel like we're getting close. Just have to keep working hard till that day comes, and hopefully it will be soon.
Q. I read some of the stuff and comments you made, something about is there a big differential between last year's car and this year's car. I know the front ends look different. Has there been a completion of all those rules changes? In other words, when you go to a track, can you use the material from the previous season to get an idea of what you should do?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously, the change of the nose with the way the splitter is. Essentially the splitter is the same size and dimension, just not as much of it sticks out so you can't see as much of it. The splitter braces are gone. We didn't see a big change in our racecars because of it.
So, yeah, all of stuff we've done last year we're able to use, notes and things we liked and didn't like about our cars, things we knew we needed to work on and things we didn't. Everything has translated pretty much. The only curve ball we get is each weekend Goodyear brings a different tire. You never know what they're going to bring. Sometimes when the tire they say is very similar, sometimes our cars don't react similar. That's always kind of a moving target for us, is the tires that they bring. Obviously it's the same for everybody. They can change your cars and your notes and the things that you're doing quite drastically compared to a little bit of a nose change or anything like that.
Q. To watch the race from California was exciting as all get out. I'm saying, Finally, finally, and then, boom, it goes away.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah.
Q. You anticipated that. You said a hundred laps you'd have that change. There's no way to make a correction in the car itself so you can move down?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, yeah, I mean, that's something we're constantly trying to figure out. It's something that we've been working hard on the last few weeks. Obviously we had the similar issue at Bristol, leading the race and kind of had a bit of the same issue.
So it's something that we fought on certain racetracks last year and it's something we're working hard to try to correct. We tried a lot of things on Sunday to fix our car, and it just wouldn't do what we needed it to do. So, yeah, we're trying to figure that out constantly. It's something the guys here, the engineers and everybody, is putting a lot of effort into getting that. I feel like that's kind of the last piece of the puzzle for us to get where we want to go. We'll have to keep working on it.
Q. Your brother Ryan has tweeted a picture. Can you tell us what he has had done. I guess he'll still be able to race or are you going to have to fill in in the Nationwide car for him?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No, he's going to be good to go. The reason that he picked this week or today to do it, they obviously have an off weekend this weekend, and he'll be good to go for Texas. He didn't want to miss a race.
I guess it's kind of corrective surgery. He had a break in his wrist, I guess he's had it for two years now. He broke it two years ago, didn't know it was broke, and it started bothering him here lately. He got it checked out. They said, It ought to hurt, it's broke in two pieces.
He just had corrective surgery. They've been working with NASCAR and everything on what kind of cast he needs to put on it and all that stuff so he can drive. We've seen people drive with casts bigger than his before, so he'll be good to go.
Q. The end of last season, you had the good race at Homestead. When you close the season on a positive note like that, had that carried over to the beginning of this season or is that in the rearview mirror?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: A little bit of both. Obviously you're always looking forward. A big part of this business is forgetting about last week, moving on to next. You're only as good as your last race, all that good stuff.
For us, it was a good shot in the arm. We had quite a tough season, especially from the middle towards the end part. The last four or five weeks we kind of started to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel again. It was good for us. It was a needed shot in the arm going into the off-season knowing there was a lot of work to be done. Kind of helped get a little bit more motivated. So it was good for us.
Obviously it translated for us into the start of this season, starting off well. It was definitely a bonus.
Q. TV commercials, you've become quite good at those. Is that something you're more comfortable with now?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It was definitely difficult when you were a rookie to do that stuff. I definitely felt more comfortable this year doing it than I did last year. Actually, all the people there at the shoot thought I was a pro, so I must be doing something right (laughter).
Q. A star is born.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Absolutely (laughter).
It's very, very important to have good teammates, guys you can relate with, guys that have similar driving styles.
Q. You have a teammate in David Reutimann who won each of the last couple years. Now you have an associate teammate in Bobby Labonte, a former Sprint Cup champion. How important is it for you to have top-quality teammates like that and how much do you rely on each other through the race setup process and the race itself?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It's very, very important to have good teammates, guys you can relate with, guys that have similar driving styles. We all work really, really closely here at MWR. We have meetings at the racetrack after every practice, meetings after every race here at the shop. We all really talk about our racecars. We communicate about them, trying to help each other, really come up with things that will help all of us.
Yeah, it's very important to have a good relationship with them. Obviously, David and Bobby are great guys. I enjoy working with them and racing with them. It works out well. It seems that we kind of feel the same things in our racecars, which goes a long way in helping the company make our stuff better.
Q. I know you watch other different types of racing. This week in St. Pete, IRL used the double-file restart which lasted one turn. Do you have a comment on that, whether that will work in there?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I don't know. Actually I didn't see that race. That's news to me. I didn't even know they were going to double file. Generally those guys don't like to get too close together on the racetrack from what I've seen. They're normally pretty far apart. If it makes the racing more exciting, then it's all good with me.
Q. Recently Carl Edwards feels like he owes Kyle Busch one. Do you carry grudges for a real long time? Or is it you get angry and move on?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I think it's different for everybody. I guess the amount of forgiveness is different for everybody. You never forget, that's for damn sure. I know who's done me wrong in the past. It's just something you keep in your memory bank. Whether or not you take action on it is a different story. That just depends more on the person than anything.
Q. Are you going to be running in the Nationwide Series and if that would help you on the racetrack during the Sprint Cup races?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I don't have any Nationwide races planned as of right now. Things could change obviously if different partners come into MWR, they may want to do Nationwide things. We'll have to see what happens. I enjoy running those races. I ran a few of those last year and had a good time.
I think this year with the cars being more similar, I think it would be a bonus, I think it would help a little bit. There's still a lot of big differences between the cars as far as setups with us being on bump-stops, Nationwide not being allowed to run them, and Nationwide not being able to run rear sway bars. Those are the two things that differentiate the two, along with the obvious aero differences.
Being that the cars are somewhat similar and run on the same tires, it would benefit running on Saturday. Most of the time it's about going out there and running races, and I enjoy doing that.
ASHLEY JONES: Thank you, Martin, for joining us today. We appreciate you taking the time. We also thank the media for the coverage as always. Martin, best of luck this weekend at Martinsville.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Thank you, everyone, for showing up and asking some questions. We'll talk to you later.