2010 NASCAR Preseason Thunder Daytona Fan Fest: Saturday news conference
January 16, 2010
An Interview with Martin Truex Jr.
DENISE MALOOF: Okay, everybody, Martin Truex, Jr., has joined us a little bit early and we were thankful for that. Big doings this year, new team, new car, new sponsor, new everything, I guess, except you still have the same haircut it looks like.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, a lot of new things, an exciting off-season for me, busy off-season for me compared to what I've normally been used to. But so far it's been a lot of fun.
I'm really excited about the opportunity to drive the NAPA Toyota, and I've been very impressed with the organization in Michael Waltrip Racing and everything they've put into being a successful race team, and coming in this year with the No. 56 to have a great season. So things are looking great. I'm very happy with the team the way it's all came together, very much looking forward to the season. I think it's going to be a great one for all of us, and should be a lot of fun.
DENISE MALOOF: Any fun off-season things that were not racing related that you can share?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No, I didn't get to do a whole lot this year. Probably the most fun thing I did was when I went home for Christmas to spend some time with my family. I had a good time up there in New Jersey, and that's about it. Other than that, I've been working a lot. It's been good.
Q: There's a lot of talk about doing away with the yellow line here and allowing you guys to bump draft and actually giving you guys a bigger restrictor plate. What side of the argument are you on with those kind of rule changes?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I think it'll be good. I think the bump drafting rule, settling down on those a little bit, letting us get after it a little bit more is a good thing. I think it'll be exciting for all of us. It'll be more fun for us drivers. I think we can kind of put it on the edge a little bit more.
The yellow line rule I think needs to stay, just my opinion. I think there's only six or eight feet from the yellow line to the grass. Where do you go when you get in the grass? You've got to keep the cars out of the grass somehow because that would be bad. Of course when you get to the corner, if you're below the yellow line and you come into the corner, you've got to get up onto the racetrack to make the turn. I just think it would be difficult, and guys would try to hold people down on the apron so they couldn't go and things like that. It would just be a mess without the yellow line rule. But the rest of it, I'm excited about. I think it's going to be great for the fans, great for the drivers, and it should be a lot more fun for all of us.
Q: With everything that's new this year, what's the biggest challenge you think you face in terms of making this transition, and what's your sense about how you and Pat are going to work together?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: You know, my thoughts -- I had thoughts about what was going to be challenging. I thought being with a new team, with a new crew, with -- like you say, everything being new, I'd have to get in there and kind of figure it all out. I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it actually turned out being. We tested in Atlanta last week, and things went really well, better than I could have imagined. I really enjoy working with Pat. I've known him for a few years. We've been friendly for a few years, but I didn't really know much about how he worked and how he went about his business. I've been really impressed with him and the way he takes care of the guys on the team, the way he interacts with them, the way he works in the shop and the way he kind of does his thing, so to speak.
I think it's going to be an easier transition than I thought. Everybody at MWR has welcomed me with open arms. They've been very good to work with, very straightforward, very fair, and a lot of fun. So it's been -- it's really going well so far. I've had a lot of fun this off-season getting ready. We've had a great test already. I think that their equipment is top-notch, their people are top-notch, and the way they go about their business is pretty impressive, to say the least. I think it's going to be an easier transition for us, it's just a matter of getting in the groove, starting off on the right foot, getting that ball rolling, and then just keep it going.
Q: Have you had a chance to spend any time yet with David, David Reutimann, talk to him about how things are going to go? Did you have a previous relationship with him or anything?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: We've spoken. You know, last year towards the end of the year we talked a little bit. You know, we haven't really sat down and said, well, this is the way it's going to be. Obviously we are teammates, we're going to pull in the same direction. I think working together will be no problem at all. David is a heck of a nice guy, easy to get along with, and from what I've seen of him, he's going to be a lot of fun to work with.
I've had conversations with him, with Rodney Childers, his crew chief, same with Marcos and Frankie Kerr and I've seen those guys around the shop and we've spent time together and we've talked. It's going to be easy to be teammates with all these guys. Hopefully we can all pull in the same direction, put all our thoughts together and make the team the best we can.
But I think that working together and being teammates is going to be an easy thing for all of us.
Q: What did you learn about the team and the cars during the Atlanta tire test?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I learned a lot about them. You know, we kind of put together a test plan. We had a lot of things we wanted to try. Obviously with Pat, haven't worked with the race cars from MWR, I hadn't drove them. There was a lot of things we wanted to work through. So we did that for the first day, ran through a lot of things, learned a whole bunch, learned a lot of what not to do, what to do, all those things. You just kind of build your test plan and go through it.
That went very well. We accomplished a lot. The guys on the team did a great job of swapping the car back and forth, changing setups, geometry, front end packages and setups, and we went through a lot of things. For a team that's never been together before, for them to get through all that in the first day, like usually you make a plan and you get through about half of it and you end up not getting it all done, but they did a good job with it. They all worked together well, seemed to have good camaraderie. The guys were getting along really good. They seem like they understand each other's job and understand what they're supposed to do, which is great just coming out of the box. I think having an understanding of what your job is, although it sounds small, it's an important part of being part of an hour and a half practice session when you come into the garage. You need to know who jacks the car, when to jack the car, when to let the car down, things like that that sound easy but you have to practice and get in motion and know what to expect from the other guys around you.
So everything from that perspective went well. The car ran great, the car felt good, the engine felt really good, and I was just really impressed and happy about the way everything went. I thought we put together some great results on the track. We learned a lot about each other. Pat did a great job with the car. I felt like our -- like we'd worked together before. Our communication, it was just so easy. I'd just tell him what I wanted and he would give it to me. If we can do that every week, we'll have something. So it went really well.
Q: I saw Ryan at New Smyrna the other day, and I felt like he missed something. It was only the second time he'd be there in his first laps. Did you ever get a chance to race there? What's he missed with that, number one; and number two, either how nerve-wracked or how excited are you to be his teammate this year in 2010?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, you know, I had never raced at New Smyrna, either. I had just done some testing there. I watched a lot of racing there, modifieds and such. But I'm pretty excited about being teammates with him. It's special, you know, to be part of that. I've been a small part of his career, sort of a car owner for him for the last two years, and it's been a lot of fun. I haven't been able to spend as much time with him as I would have liked, though, and I think this -- even the last -- heck, since I moved to North Carolina, we haven't spent a whole lot of time together. For this to -- for him to be teammates now, hopefully he'll be down here a lot more. We can spend a lot of time together. I'll be not just his car owner but kind of be in his corner and try to spend time with him at the shop, help him with things that I can do a little bit better job than I do with the texting. It's going to be fun to be his teammate. I don't get nervous unless I'm on top of the trailer and he's in the race car and I'm watching. Only time I've ever been nervous in my life is when I'm watching his race.
It's going to be fun. Hopefully we get on the racetrack together before long, and it'll be a lot more comfortable for me.
Q: Will he be your roommate if he comes down?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, he can stay whenever he wants. He can come to the house and stay whenever he wants. But generally he'd rather sit in his apartment and text me that he's bored. (Laughter.) There's nothing to do here, I'm bored. Well, come on. No, I don't want to. Okay. So he usually just sits in his room and races on-line or something.
Q: Martin, I think I have perceived you as being a sort of mechanically-oriented kind of a driver and now you're in a position to be a star of TV commercials kind of driver. Talk about making that transition, how that's going to be different for you.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, it's not really going to be different. I still need to know what shocks and springs are on my race car and what number oil filter I need to get when I go to NAPA. But the commercial thing is going to be a lot of fun. It's kind of new to me. I've done a few little ones. We did a Toyota spot earlier this winter that was a lot of fun. I've done a few of Bass Pros, so it's not anything new. These are kind of a lot bigger with national spots and everything. It'll be fun, something different. Got to know Ron Capps a little bit over the winter, and he's going to be in a few of them with us, too. It'll be fun to do it, and I think we've got one next week, so wish me luck.
Q: If you could just talk a little bit about how important it is to do events like this for the fans, especially in the off-season, generating a little excitement for them, just kind of a little appreciation weekend it seems like.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, it is. Without having the testing here like we used to, that was kind of what that was. A lot of people would come down just for the test from out of state, all over the country really, and get excited about the season coming up, smell the fuel burning, smell the tires and hear the engines running. This is everything but the engines and the race cars. It's cool that everybody comes down, puts their time in and gives the fans something to get excited about, something to get that ball rolling for the season. It's good for us to come down here and see them all. We enjoy it. It's a lot of fun for us, and we get to see people, all you guys, that we haven't seen in a few months, and look forward to getting the season started.
Q: You've been a Chevrolet guy ever since you got to NASCAR, now you're in a Toyota. I went to the test at New Smyrna Wednesday, and Toyota had rented the track for two days and let 12 teams test. They've got a real -- we're all in this together kind of mentality. Are you getting that just in the limited amount of time that you've spent with these people?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Absolutely, yeah. I mean, we had a lot of Toyota engineers at our test in Atlanta last week, and they were talking about some of the things they do, and I've been to their facilities in Salisbury at TRD, and they kind of showed me what they do and how they go about it.
One thing that's different, I think, is when you're with Toyota, when one person gets information, the other Toyotas get the information. They don't get parts and pieces of it, they get it all. They share everything. It's kind of like one big team.
It was different than that at Chevrolet, kind of the teams were always out on their own. You'd get small pieces of information here and there from Chevrolet. But the teams, if Hendrick went testing and got a bunch of information, they wouldn't send it to Chevrolet for Chevrolet to give to Earnhardt and Childress and whoever. In that sense it's a little bit different.
And the support that the team, the race team, gets from the manufacturer, from what I've seen, is far greater than anything I've ever seen before. So that's exciting to be a part of for me, and it's pretty impressive for Toyota.
Q: Just to follow up on the tire test in Atlanta, at the end of the session there, did you do long runs and feel like there's a tire there with lots of grip, or how did you sort of size up the tire situation once you left there?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, we did long runs. We weren't a primary test car, so basically we didn't get to run the tires that they were testing until the second day. We pretty much ran the fall Atlanta tire that we raced.
But the second day in the afternoon, they gave us two options that Mark and Carl both had liked, thought were better, and I thought they were better, too. If they do what they say they were going to do and bring back that tire, it should be better.
Now, it was 40 degrees, track was better than it's going to be when we go back, but there was no wear issues. There was no wear then, there won't be when we go back by any means. The durability was fine, they felt better, had better grip. The falloff was about the same as the told tire, but it just was a little bit faster and felt a little bit better the whole run. It should make for better racing and traffic, having more grip in the tire. Obviously Atlanta has always been a place that puts on some really good racing because of the way the grooves are and you can run all over the place. It should be very good. I was very happy with the tire, and I think they could have been a little more aggressive with it still. But I think it'll be head and shoulders above what we had before.
DENISE MALOOF: Martin, thank you. We'll see you very shortly.
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