MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS / TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS, MAX SIEGEL, PRESIDENT OF DEI, JOHN STORY, VICE PRESIDENT OF MOTORSPORTS OPERATIONS FOR DEI met with media and discussed contract renewal, the state of DEI and plans for the future,...
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS / TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS, MAX SIEGEL, PRESIDENT OF DEI, JOHN STORY, VICE PRESIDENT OF MOTORSPORTS OPERATIONS FOR DEI met with media and discussed contract renewal, the state of DEI and plans for the future, and more.
ON RE-SIGNING WITH DEI:
TRUEX JR: "I'm excited and I'm glad to put an end to all the rumors and get rid of all the speculation and solidify my position at DEI. I'm looking forward to running the Bass Pro Shops No. 1 the rest of this year and next year. I'm looking forward to doing great things with the company and moving forward. This season has been kind of up and down for us, but I really believe in my race team. I believe in the things we're doing at the shop that we can contend to win races and get back to the forum we had last year. I'm looking forward to starting that off this weekend here at Watkins Glen. We've run well here in the past. I've always had good success here in everything we've ever driven. Last year was a really good race for us here, probably one of the best I've ever driven at this race track. So I'm looking forward to the weekend. So hopefully we'll start this thing off and have a good run this weekend and keep things going throughout the rest of the season and get prepared good for next year."
SIEGEL: "We're very excited to have Martin back for 2009. And as he said, he's a very important part of our program and he knows how much we appreciate him and all of our drivers at DEI. We've been focused on the long-term future of the company and putting a lot of resources in the competition area. John Story and the rest of the management team have done a tremendous job at elevating all of our programs and we're excited to give him all the support that we can to compete for a championship."
STORY: "We've said all along one of the most difficult things that we've had to battle as a company is certainly competition on the race track, but also perception. And this is a big step to let everybody know that we are in fact still around and that we're a strong company. One of the things we've worked really hard on, Max talked about the competition and the Motorsports side of our business, which is at the end of the day, what we do, obviously. It's the only thing we do. We've worked very closely with Martin through this whole process. One of the reasons it has taken so long, quite frankly, is that we've had a lot of good, strong, ongoing dialogue about how to make the company stronger. You're going to see new people coming into our organization very soon. You're going to see us putting into practice all the tools and equipment that we have so that all of our cars will take the next step and move up. Obviously it's our goal for Martin to win a championship at DEI and anything short of that, as we've always said, will be falling short of our goals. We know that Martin can do that and we're certainly excited about it for at least this year and next."
IS IT A ONE-YEAR DEAL AND CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT LED YOU TO YOUR DECISION TO STAY WITH DEI?
TRUEX JR: "Yeah, it's through 2009 for right now and a little bit down the road we're going to look at doing some long-term stuff. Right now we just really want to focus on getting the performance back that we had last year and that we had at the beginning part of this year. I think a lot of it has been distraction. As much as I hate to admit it, it's been hard. It's been tough dealing with all the rumors and quite frankly, I think a lot of people have been very critical of DEI for the wrong reasons; for reasons that I don't think were fair to them or anybody that works at that company that puts their heart and soul into what they do.
"So it's been tough, but like I said, we're going to get through it. I feel like we're getting stronger as a company and as a race team. I really believe in the people we've got. I believe in my race team, especially. I'm a big part of what goes on there. When we have a bad day or a bad week, or we go down the wrong road somewhere, I take responsibility for that too. I don't sit back and say well, you know, my cars are no good and my team is no good. I'm a part of that race team too. I know we need to get better. We're working hard; I'm working hard and I really believe in the people I've got. I know what we did last year. I know what we are capable of and that's a big part of what led me to this decision."
HOW IMPORTANT IS MARTIN AND DOES HE QUALIFY AS THAT KEY-MAN PROVISION IN A CONTRACTUAL ARRANGEMENT?
SIEGEL: "Well, first of all, Martin has moved into a leadership role in our company very seamlessly and has stepped into that and accelerated it. He has been a big part of a lot of direction we've taken in the competition area. He and I had a conversation last week and I said it was critical to get feedback from him. The best feedback we can get from anyone in the company is from someone sitting behind the wheel and driving that car. So he is a very important part of our team. He's a huge leader with all four of our drivers. We're really excited about him being there. It's amazing how granular Martin gets with the details of what we need to do to accelerate our program to the next level."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING THE KEY-MAN?
TRUEX JR: "I think it's exciting for me. We talked about this last year when all the other stuff happened. It's definitely an exciting time for me. It's something I've worked for all my life in racing. Since I started driving cars at DEI in 2003, it is kind of what I've progressed into. At first I was a part time Busch Series driver. And then I went out and won the championships and I was going to be their third Cup driver in line. And you know you work your way up. And that's kind of how it works. I'm excited about it. It's fun. It's a lot of work. It's a lot of pressure. That's the one thing that is the bad part about it is it is a lot of pressure. A lot of people look to you for answers all the time.
"And when things don't go right, sometimes they point the finger at you too. But, I like a good challenge. I can accept that. I could have maybe been weak and took the easy road and said no, I can't do this; I can't handle this. But I'm accepting the challenge and looking forward to it. I think we can do great things together."
ON ADJUSTING TO NOT HAVING CREW CHIEF, KEVIN "BONO" MANION, AND CAR CHIEF, GARY PUTNAM WHILE ON SIX WEEK SUSPENSION
TRUEX JR: "It's been different without Bono and Gary, for sure. Obviously since the first time I ever sat in a race car at DEI, he's been my crew chief. He's been that guy in my ear that I've been talking to. It's been difficult without him, definitely. It really reminds me of just how good he is and how good our relationship is and our communication is; and how easy we can get through a weekend no matter what is thrown at us. At the same time, (interim crew chief) Mike Greci has done a really good job of coming in and keeping the troops rallied and keeping things flowing. But we haven't been able to do what me and Bono can do because we've been together for so long and we know each other.
"Last week was a really tough situation because we didn't get any practice at Pocono. We unloaded in qualifying trim and we were really fast, so we just kind of went into the race blind. So we didn't get the results we were looking for. But he's done a really good job of coming in and keeping the team together and keeping the guys pumped up and getting all their jobs done. And with that, everybody on the team has stepped up to do the next guy's job. And they've done a good job. As small as it sounds, they're through tech (inspection) on time and the cars are prepared right. Everything is getting done the way it needs to. It sounds small, but it's a big deal. So that's gone well and I'm looking forward to this weekend and continuing that relationship with Greci. I don't really think he's had a fair shot at doing a whole weekend yet, with the practice in the rain and the stuff at Indy with the tires. But I've been counting down the days until Richmond so I can get Bono and Gary back."
ON MARK MARTIN AT DEI
SIEGEL: "I would say that Mark Martin has been and continues to be a tremendous asset to our organization. He worked very closely with us when we wanted to focus on the long-term future of the company and develop our younger drivers. Aric Almirola, we all felt, was ready to run a full season. And we talked about doing what was in everybody's best interest. We want four cars and one team, and we want to put points on the board and win the respect of the people for what we're doing on the track and not what we say. And Mark was very helpful in helping us map out where we're going in the future."
ON THE FUTURE OF DEI:
STORY: "As far as our 2009 program, obviously our goals have not changed. Four cars is our objective for next year: Certainly the No. 1 with Martin, the No. 15 with Paul Menard, the No. 8 with Aric Almirola, and Regan Smith in the No. 01. But we are all still working to round out sponsorship on the No. 01 car. The goal remains to run all four teams next year."
WHEN YOU SAID THAT DEI WAS CRITICIZED FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS, WHAT ARE THE WRONG REASONS AND WHAT ARE THE RIGHT REASONS?
TRUEX JR: "Well I think they get criticized a lot for the way the wind blows sometimes, it seems like. I don't know what it is. If we run 10th, it's not good enough. Obviously we need to win a championship. We haven't done that. I don't know. It's always a bad story. It's never a good one even if we do good, there is always the negative side of it. We just need to perform on the race track and the rest of it will take care of itself."
BASED ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH BONO, DID YOU EVER REALLY WANT TO THINK ABOUT STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN FROM SCRATCH?
TRUEX JR: "It's hard to think about that. I don't know what I would do without him. Like I said, since I've been a driver for a living, he's the only guy I've worked with. When I think about Tony Stewart and Greg Zipadelli and what they've done over ten years, I think it's going to be difficult for him not having him at his side. It's going to be a big, big change. Whether it's good or not, I don't know. I guess they'll find out and we will too. But I'm not sure I was ready for that yet. There is still a lot we need to accomplish together, I feel like. I think he's still getting better as a crew chief and I look forward to working with him for a long time. It's hard to think about change sometimes, but I wasn't ready for it."
DID ANY OF THE OTHER OPENINGS PEAK YOUR INTEREST AND MAKE THIS PROCESS A LITTLE BIT LONGER THAN YOU WANTED IT TO BE?
TRUEX JR: "No, the things that made this process longer were things that I was trying to get straight with DEI; things that we were talking about. We worked hard, as Max said, going through and talking about things that we needed to change. Things that we needed to get better, and would we be able to do these things? What is it going to take? We really just had to go through all that and I had to really trust them and believe in them and we need to make these things happen and get the job done."
IS IT YOUR OBJECTIVE TO HAVE SOMETHING MORE EXTENSIVE DONE, CONTRACTUALLY, SOONER RATHER THAN LATER?
SIEGEL: "Yeah, I think that all of us are committed to making the entire company better and we look each other in the eye and we're honest with one another about what we can do to support each other in trying to build something great. Someone said, 'Can you and John rest?' And I said probably for about three days and then it's on to the next issue. We have ongoing dialogue. "One of the things I really enjoy about our relationship, the three of us, is that we talk constantly. And we are pretty brutally honest about what we need to do to get better as individuals, as managers, as an athlete, and as an organization. So that's our intent. What we wanted to do was get especially the speculation for 2009 out of the way so we can concentrate on finishing this year and getting ready for next year. But I fully do anticipate the questions starting to come again."
-credit: gm racing