CORNELIUS, N.C. -- Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS team are back on the road as the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season kicks off with qualifying for the Daytona 500 on Sunday at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway.
Three weeks ago, Truex tried out the newly-paved superspeedway driving his NAPA Toyota that boasted a new front nose. The Daytona test saw the No. 56 fast in the draft.
For the second-straight year, Truex will team up with owner Michael Waltrip as they compete under the NAPA AUTO PARTS banner. 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of Waltrip's first Daytona 500 victory with NAPA.
TRUEX ON EXPECTATIONS HEADING INTO DAYTONA: "Athlon Sports predicted the NAPA team to be in the top 10 in points this year. I like the way they think. It's definitely a possibility. We've worked very hard on this NAPA team over the off season. We talked at the end of last year and again this winter about how happy I was with the way the team performed at the end of the season. I feel really good about what we accomplished and what we got done in the off season. I haven't felt this confident going into a season since 2006. I am definitely looking forward to great things. It's all about getting the season off to a strong start and we certainly can do that."
ON SITTING OUT THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT: "It's the strangest thing. Somehow I have gotten excluded from the Shootout over the last two years. Both of the last two years, the previous year's rule, I was in. Going into the winter, I thought I was in, but they changed the rules on me again. I will be in Daytona for media day on Thursday and the first chance I will get to be on the track is Saturday. It's going to be tough not getting on track for the Shootout practices and race."
ON HOW THE CAR FEELS IN SINGLE CAR RUNS WITH THE CHANGES TO THE NOSE: "When I tested, I really didn't notice a change. We've actually done a little bit of downforce testing and short track testing with it, and I don't think it's a huge difference from what we had. I think the playing field will be a little bit more level, the way the noses are mounted, the structure behind it that holds the nose on the car at the height it's supposed to be. I think it'll be a little bit more even across the board. Other than that I think it's fairly similar, it just looks a whole lot better, which is good."
NAPA Racing will once again host the Honorary Pit Crew Member program at the Daytona 500. Marc Goodrich of Midway, Ga. and Kevin Edmunds of Tampa, Fla., will be honored in NAPA pre-race festivities and have their names decaled on the No. 56 and No. 15 NAPA Toyotas.