Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS, met with media members at Dover International Speedway and discussed returning to a track he's won at, remembering Sept. 11, 2001 here, help from teammates in the Chase, his ...
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Impala SS, met with media members at Dover International Speedway and discussed returning to a track he's won at, remembering Sept. 11, 2001 here, help from teammates in the Chase, his responsibilities at DEI since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. picked his new team, running the Busch Series, rating DEI's Car of Tomorrow program, the younger drivers' chances in the Chase and racing at Kansas.
IS THERE A DIFFERENT FEELING RETURNING TO A TRACK THAT YOU'VE WON AT? "Yeah, it's definitely a different feel and this is the only time I've been able to be in that position in the Cup Series so it feels good and it's cool but at the same time I think everybody here will be better than they were last time and we'll have to be to win it again. So we're just doing our normal deal, working hard and trying to get the car the best we can get and so far here in qualifying trim we're a lot better than we were last time in qualifying trim so hopefully that will be great for the weekend. Surely I know we qualified better than we did here last time so we're looking forward to qualifying tonight."
ON WHAT HE REMEMBERS HERE ABOUT SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: "I remember the day got cut short and the ambulances had to leave and go up there. Everyone was in disbelief. We didn't really understand what happened or why it happened or how or anything. It was just kind of an empty, hollow feeling."
WHAT KIND OF HELP DO YOU GET FROM TEAMMATES IN THE CHASE? "The same help we get throughout the season. We just compare notes and we talk after practice and before practice and all that and just try to do the best job we can do putting everyone together. There's no real secret to it, it's just comparing notes and if one of our teammates is better than us, we can look at what they're doing and try to use some of what they're doing."
ONCE YOU WON HERE, DID THAT GIVE YOU THE CONFIDENCE THAT YOU WOULD BECOME A CHASE CONTENDER OR DID YOU FEEL YOU WERE ON YOUR WAY THERE ANYWAY? "I don't know. It didn't really change the way we approach the racing or the confidence we had in our abilities or anything. It was a great feeling to finally get a win. We knew that was one thing we could cross off our list of accomplishments and goals and one of our goals was to be in the Chase so that didn't change - winning or not winning, that didn't change our strategy or anything. We felt like we could be in the Chase before the year started and that never changed no matter what the situation."
ONCE DALE EARNHARDT, JR. PICKED HIS TEAM, HAVE YOU FELT AN INCREASE IN RESPONSIBILITIES AT DEI? "I don't know, I've had to talk to more reporters (laughs). I've had to answer more questions. That's about it. Nothing else really changed. I'm just focusing on our cars and working with Bono (Kevin Manion) and my whole team and just trying to get the best we can get out of our cars each weekend and that's really the only thing I've had to worry about here in the last month or two."
HOW DID IT COME ABOUT WITH YOU RUNNING THE BUSCH SERIES RACE HERE THIS WEEKEND? "I'm not really sure. I wanted to a run a few Busch races throughout the year and I hadn't really gotten a chance to do it and the guys at DEI said they wanted me to run here just because I like coming here and they were kind of doing it as a favor to me. And then for them to put Sea Watch on the car like we used to run with dad's cars, it's pretty cool, kind of a little tribute deal for my old man. He's really pumped up about it. One of his plants is just down the road about 20 minutes and he's got a bunch of employees coming for the races so it's cool for him and it's fun for me to just jump back in the Busch car and go have some fun."
IS IT KIND OF A WAY TO RELAX AND HAVE SOME FUN AMID ALL THE PRESSURE OF THE CHASE? "Yeah, but we still want to run well and we had practice over there this morning and the car wasn't turning good so we'll just have to see what we can get out of it."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'RE IN THE CHASE WITH ALL THE BIG NAME DRIVERS GETTING MOST OF THE ATTENTION OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE ONCE YOU'RE IN IT YOU'VE PROVEN YOU BELONG THERE? "People go off past races and experience and results and them guys had the results because they've been doing it so long so you can't really say that they're overlooking us or anything. We just haven't had the results over the past few years. That's kind of the reason why I think that happens. They have all the statistics and that's what they go by. We're not even on that sheet yet. I don't know, it doesn't really matter. I feel good about my team and what we've been able to accomplish so far and we've got some great race cars and I'm looking forward to this weekend. It's going to be a lot of fun."
HOW WOUD YOU RATE YOUR TEAM'S CAR OF TOMORROW PROGRAM? IS HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS STILL DOMINANT WITH THE IMPALA SS? "Ours has been pretty good. I mean we've been right there with all them guys I think every week. We had a good run last week, certainly wasn't the best car. It just depends on who hits it right on that day. There's a bunch of guys here that can do it and that probably will throughout the year."
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF ONE OF THE YOUNGER CHASE DRIVERS STEALING THE CHAMPIONSHIP: "We could and not because nobody is looking at us or talking about us. I don't think that has anything to do with it. I think we're good race teams, all of us are running well, there's no reason why we can't do it. It has nothing to do with who thinks we can or who thinks we can't, as long as we think we can do it and we do the right things we can certainly win this championship."
DO YOU FEEL THERE IS LESS PRESSURE ON THE YOUNGER CHASE DRIVERS? "I think there's definitely less pressure. There's less expectations. I can't speak for them but I know for me the only pressure I feel is what I put on myself and what I feel that I owe to my race team. Other than that, the rest of it doesn't matter."
ON HAVING NOTHING TO LOSE: "I've got stuff to lose, I want to win. So we'll just have to do what we can."
ARE YOU LESS LIKELY TO MAKE CHANGES BECAUSE YOU KNOW WHAT WORKED IN JUNE OR HAS THE TRACK CHANGED SINCE THEN? "It doesn't change and I'm sure we'll go back to what works and hopefully we can tune on it a little bit more and get it a little better. The thing about having something like that is if you try some stuff and it doesn't work you can always go back to it. A place like this doesn't change all that much so hopefully we'll be able to put that stuff in there that we ran."
ON NOT DOING MANY BUSCH SERIES RACES SINCE HE WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP AND IF HE MISSES IT: "I miss it a little bit. I was kind of surprised at how different that car felt than what these are so I'm a little concerned about doing more next year now that we'll be running COT every week."
HOW WEIRD WILL IT BE TO NOT SEE DALE JR. IN THE NO. 8 CHEVY? "I think it will be weirder for me not having my teammate than seeing him a different car. I don't know. Paint and numbers change. People get in different cars every year. I know it's Dale Jr. and all but it's just a different car, not a big deal."
GOING BACK TO SEPTEMBER 11, HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT IT? "Honestly I don't really remember. I guess the track us that the ambulance had to leave and all that. We didn't really get any of the details until we got home so it was kind of weird."
DID YOU GO TO A TV OR RADIO TO TRY TO FIND OUT WHAT WAS GOING ON? "I don't even remember. I think we probably heard it on the radio on the way home from here."
WHAT KIND OF FEELINGS DID YOU HAVE? "Weird, just eerie, a scary feeling. You didn't know what was going on. It's just weird to know something big like that happened and not exactly know how it happened or who did it or why they did or anything. Things like that don't happen in the U.S. so it was a weird day."
WERE YOU HERE WITH YOUR DAD? "Yeah."
ON GOING TO KANSAS AND RETURNING TO DRIVING THE MONTE CARLO SS: "I'm looking forward to Kansas. It's been a great track for me. It's one I really enjoy and we ran very well there last year so we're looking forward to it. Our old car has been really good for us at the bigger tracks - the mile and a half, two milers - so I think we can go there and be very competitive. We're looking forward to it."
IS THERE A COMFORT LEVEL GOING BACK TO THE MONTE CARLO SS? "It's different. Just when you first sit down in it, it feels a lot different. The window net is closer to you, you can see a lot better out of the windshield. It's just a different feeling and as soon as you start it up and you go out on the race track you're just in another race car so it isn't that big of a deal."
WHAT MAKES KANSAS UNIQUE? "I don't know, it's sort of like Chicago but without the curved back straightaway but it's a fast track. It's not really banked like Texas or Atlanta or places like that. It's a little bit flatter but it's got a lot of grip and asphalt and it's definitely a fun track to race on. The groove gets real wide and that's probably the best part about it."
ON A SCALE OF ONE TO 10, HOW FUN WOULD YOU SAY KANSAS IS? "Last year it was about an eight. It was real good. The top groove came in and we were able to run against the wall and it make it a lot fun."
-credit: gm racing