An interview with: MARTIN TRUEX JR. KEVIN "BONO" MANION, CREW CHIEF CHIP GANASSI FELIX SABATES MODERATOR: We are joined by Martin Truex Jr., his crew chief, Kevin Manion, team owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sebates. Congratulations. Martin, this...
An interview with:
MARTIN TRUEX JR.
KEVIN "BONO" MANION, CREW CHIEF
MODERATOR: We are joined by Martin Truex Jr., his crew chief, Kevin Manion, team owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sebates. Congratulations. Martin, this is your second career pole. How does it feel to be sitting on the pole for the Daytona 500?
TRUEX JR: "It feels great. I've just got to thank everybody back at the shop; Bono and all the guys, for their efforts over the winter. I think since July last year when our car had to stay down here and we didn't get to run it, this has been circled on our calendar. Qualifying day we felt like we had a shot at it then and they guys have worked hard and felt good about this all winter. They've felt like they've had a shot at coming down here and sitting on the front row for the 500. I'm just the lucky guy who gets to sit in that seat and drive that thing. It's pretty awesome."
KEVIN, TALK ABOUT THE LAP HE TURNED TODAY
MANION: "You know the car has had great speed all weekend. Not being able to test down here in Daytona, we took advantage of testing at DPG with Chevrolet and pretty much every Chevrolet team was there. We had good speed so the set up is just something that we've dreamed up and it's good for two laps and it feels really good after unfortunate happenings in July '08 to come down here and sit on the pole. It means everything."
CHIP AND FELIX, CONGRATULATIONS. YOU'VE GOT TO FEEL GOOD. YOUR THOUGHTS?
GANASSI: "As you know, it was an interesting winter for most of us in the community and it's just rewarding to come here with a lot of hard work put in by a lot of people, bringing two companies together is a difficult task and was a painful thing for a lot of people on all sides of it. My hat's off to these guys because there was a core group of people that never wavered, never lost focus on what they wanted to do and today, putting three cars in the top seven spots is quite a reward for that. My hat's off to all the people back in the shop and in the trenches doing the work and the guys wheeling these things around here."
SABATES: "A quitter never wins and a winner never quits. And I think that's the motto for our race team. We never give up. We had a tough year last year and when we got together with DEI it was a blessing for everybody because the core group of people that came from DEI are true racers."
BONO, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU GUYS DID TO TEST SINCE THERE WAS NO TESTING; TALK ABOUT THE SIMULATION PACKAGES THAT HELPED YOU GET THE CAR DIALED IN FOR THIS
MANION: "One thing with joining another organization or merging, we were able to see how Chip and his folks have done it and they were able to see how we did it as far as things we can do. Chip has a great group of engineers. They are different from DEI. I think Chip's racing background with his other teams, it's very engineered driven. I think through simulation, maybe not so much for Daytona, but for California and the open tracks to come up, I think it'll help."
WITHOUT THE TESTING, USUALLY YOU COME IN HERE TO KNOCK OFF THE RUST FROM THE OFF-SEASON. WAS THERE MORE RUST? LESS RUST?
MANION: "No, I think that a little bit more time off gets you prepared better. We came down here with a better race car than we've ever come down here with, without even testing. It gave the guys time. With all that went on this winter with us, with our team, with moving shops and combining our efforts, I think testing would have hurt us more than helped us. I think it was to our advantage that nobody could test because I think we would have been a little behind if we had to. I think that it would have taken away from our efforts at the shop and getting everything prepared just right. As far as coming down here and testing, I think it hurts not going to the downforce tracks a little bit as a driver, but I think I did enough racing online to keep the rust off."
KNOWING YOU ARE LOCKED INTO THE FRONT ROW, HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE WAY YOU APPROACH THE GATORADE DUELS?
MANION: "It's just one step. Next step is to win the Duel and then next step is to win the 500. This is the time. We've got a great car and great motors with the ECR. It's time to actually attack and strike and hit the ball and it's time. It's our time and today was our first step."
YOU ARE VERY EVEN-KEELED. SEEING OTHER DRIVERS LEAVE THE TEAM, HOW DID YOU MANAGE YOUR CONCERN?
TRUEX JR: "Well anytime there are changes coming about or things that I'm uncertain about, I just look to the guys on my team. Bono has helped me a lot. I look to the guys up in the front office, the people that have led DEI, to Chip when we merged our programs, and tried just to be a part of everything I could. I tried to give my input and make sure I knew what was going on. If you sit back and just listen to what everybody has to say and believe that you'll be in a lot worse shape that you will be if you just ask the questions. And so I just try to be a part of it as much as I could. But one thing that's never changed is having Bono and the guys on my team on my side. That's a comfortable feeling for me. I know how good they are. I know that we can get through a lot together and I just put a lot on their shoulders and they've helped carry me through all of it."
HAVE YOU EVER ENVISIONED SITTING ON THE DAYTONA 500 POLE?
TRUEX JR: "Well, I've thought about it. The last few years, with the way we've qualified down here, I probably never though there would be a chance. But we came down here in 2004 the first time I ever came into this race track to race and sat on the pole with Bono in the Busch car, and I thought that was the coolest things I'd ever done. To be back here a few years later and sit on the pole for the Cup race, has just been amazing. I've been very fortunate to be involved and be a part of great race teams and great people and it's always a lot of fun to come to Daytona. But to sit on the pole and be the fastest guy here for a whole week is a pretty cool feeling."
THIS IS A PRETTY STRONG STATEMENT FOR YOU GUYS.
TRUEX JR: "I think it feels good. It shows how hard the guys have worked. They never wavered in their commitment and at the same time, it's just one step along the way. It's just qualifying and we still have Wednesday practice to get ready for the Duels; we have to get our car prepared and handling good. As we saw last night, it's going to be wild and the cars are going to be a handful and they're going to need to handle good to race well. This is just the first step. But we've never had a car this fast down here. That gives me a lot of confidence that if we can get it handling good that we can run up front and I'm more excited about this week than I have been coming down here in a long time."
HAVE YOU HEARD FROM TERESA EARNHARDT TODAY? HAS SHE CALLED YOU?
TRUEX JR: "I don't know. I haven't had my phone with me. I'll let you know when I get back to the coach and get it."
GANASSI: "Well, that was her calling when we came in to sit down (for the press conference). I put a return call into her right away and she was just calling back."
WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY THAN WHAT RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING IS DOING. YOU AND YOUR ECR ENGINES HAVE THREE OF THE TOP-10, BUT RCR IS FARTHER DOWN IN THE ORDER?
MANION: "I don't know. I don't know the Childress side of the department is doing. If you look past a past history, when we have all had same equal motors on equal ground, we've always kind of out-qualified them. There is a lot that goes in to it. It makes me proud and the big motor is a very big part of it, but also the preparation, the car, the driveline, the wax used on it. The simple things. Just the finish of the car is the other half of it. It does make you proud knowing that the Childress guys have the same power or maybe more than you have got is a good feeling."
CAN YOU TALK MORE ABOUT THE PAIN THAT EVERYONE FELT DURING THE MERGING OF THE OPERATIONS. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE THE INDY 500 WINNER, INDY 500 POLE WINNER AND NOW THE DAYTONA 500 POLE WINNER?
GANASSI: "In answering your second question first, I didn't really think about that until it just came out of your mouth. It is obviously pretty exciting.
"In terms of putting the companies together, I have some people around Pittsburgh in the business community, they read about the merger. They asked how long did I think it would take to merge our companies together. I said the first race is in February and they said geez, if you merge two companies that are, two $50 million companies or something, it usually takes six or eight months. I am really proud of the people. It is still a work in progress putting the two together. But the important thing is that, I think, is everyone has the right frame of mind and they are keeping it open. It is open book, it is keeping an open mind, it is listening a little more than talking, maybe. So far, it has gone better than anyone could have imagined.
"Things like today will, again, make it that much more easier."
IS THIS CAR AN OLD DEI CAR?
MANION: "This is an old DEI car. It is actually the car that Aric (Almirola) ran at Talladega last fall this will be its second race. Last fall we had to throw ours away after the race literally. We cut it up and put it in the dumpster. Brian (Pattie) has a full Ganassi car and the No. 8 car is a full DEI car. Coming in to the merger, we said Daytona is the first race, let's do our own deal, go down our own path and California and so on and so forth we are going to start to merge. Working under the same roof, we tested together. We used, I would have to just say 50/50. We used as simple as used the top of our airbox, we used Chip and Felix bottom of the airbox, that was the best combination. When you take two great companies and we all know that Brian Pattie is a great speedway racer, he has great ideas, and we had great ideas. We put them together and I owe as much credit to Brian and Chip and them guys. This is one pole for the one company for sure."
-credit: gm racing