MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS MONTE CARLO SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway. Truex discussed the morale at the Dale Earnhardt Incorporated shop, on what conversations he's had with Dale ...
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS MONTE CARLO SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway. Truex discussed the morale at the Dale Earnhardt Incorporated shop, on what conversations he's had with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. since the announcement, on how the announcement has affected the dynamic of his team and other topics.
ON THE DALE EARNHARDT, JR. ANNOUNCEMENT: "Well, I knew an announcement was coming. I don't think that it really matters where he ended up, to us, or to me. I am happy that he ended up somewhere where he is happy. He seems really excited about what he has got going on, so I am happy for him, but I didn't think that it was that big of a deal."
HOW IS THE MORALE AT THE SHOP? "Yeah, I think that everybody seems more pumped up than I have seen them in a long time. Our cars are running great. Winning that race was big a couple weekends ago and we have got momentum on our side. So everybody is pumped up and excited, not only about this year, but about the future."
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN ABOUT JUNIOR? "I found out when everyone else did."
WHAT CONVERSATIONS HAVE YOU HAD WITH HIM SINCE YOU LEARNED THAT HE WAS GOING TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? "The only thing that I really said to him was I asked him how he was doing one night and he said, this was the night after he announced it, he said "How are things?", I said "Good, you are glad it's over aren't you?", he said "Yeah." He just seemed relieved. I think that he had a hard time holding it all in all of the time. He couldn't talk to anyone about it so he seemed like he was getting a little stressed out. He said he is back to normal now so he is real happy."
WHAT IS THE DYNAMIC CHANGE IN YOUR TEAM NOW, KNOWING THAT HE IS NOT GOING TO BE THERE NEXT YEAR? "I don't know, obviously some things have changed here and there. It is hard to say, the only thing that I see happening is people preparing for next year and for this year and trying to get prepared the best they can possibly get for the future. I think when Junior was there, a lot of people were just like hey, Junior is here, we don't have to worry about anything. Now, they have to think about what they are doing a little bit more and maybe work a little bit harder to get where they want to get. As far as our racing goes and the people that work there on race equipment, things are awesome. They are working hard, they are building great stuff, they are getting things better still and our race cars have been really good. So on that side of it, we are doing great."
ON IF IT IS ANY DIFFERENT ON HOW YOU SHARE INFORMATION NOW? "No, both the number 8 and the number 1 are both here to be in the Chase and try to win a championship. We are here to help each other. We were out testing yesterday and it was just like it had been for the last couple years so none of that has changed."
CAN YOU ENVISION KYLE BUSH AS A TEAM MATE? YOU GUYS HAVE HAD SOME PRETTY INTENSE BATTLES: "I remember him getting pretty mad at me a few times but other than that, I mean that is about as far as it went. You know, Kyle is a great driver, that is obvious, everybody knows that. He has had a few issues in the past with his temper and things getting the best of him, but I don't know. Could I imagine him as a teammate? Yeah, I think he would be a good teammate. I get along with Kyle just fine, I always have and he is a heck of a race car driver and he could help us really getting our cars fast. I would never rule it out but I don't know what they have got going on or who they are talking to."
RICHIE SAYS THAT HE WOULD BE AT THE TOP OF HIS LIST. "Okay, I guess he is at the top of the list then (laughs). That is more than I knew, so. I would not have any problems with it. I am probably the easiest guy in this garage to get along with. I treat people fair no matter what the circumstances are. I got no problems with Kyle. We have hung out in the garage and talked a bunch and he has always been nice to me. Since our Busch Series days we really haven't had any tussles."
RACING ON FATHERS DAY, WHAT MAKES IT EXTRA SPECIAL? "For me, my dad is going to be here, so that makes it special for me. He's here just about every week so it is always nice having him around but especially this weekend."
HAVE YOU PROMISED HIM ANYTHING? "No, not yet. Hopefully I will get him a trophy."
AS THE PAST FEW DAYS HAVE UNFOLDED, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT? HOW ARE YOU THINKING THIS IS GOING TO IMPACT YOU THIS YEAR AND NEXT YEAR? "Well, I think that the impact, the things that are going to impact me have already happened. I think the big news was when Junior was leaving, was the only big news. What is going on right now really doesn't have that big of an impact as much as that did. There's a few guys out there that would fit good with our race team and as a teammate so whether they pick one of three, which one out of the three or four that they are looking at, I don't think it will make a big difference."
DO YOU HAVE A LITTLE EXTRA WEIGHT ON YOUR SHOULDERS? YOU ARE GOING TO BE THE NUMBER ONE GUY AT DEI NEXT YEAR: "I am excited about it. I feel like my team is up to the challenge of holding the banner up for the company. We look forward to it, like I said we just want to focus on our race cars right now. We are in the Chase so far and we want to stay in that and keep getting better and have a shot at the championship at the end of the year."
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT OUT OF THE CAR OF TOMORROW IN SONOMA? "I don't think that you will see much difference. The COT was kind of, a lot of people were kind of worried about the way that we were racing when it first came around, but it has been a good car. We have had some good races with it. We tested it at a road course and other than the fact that it is a little bit slower than the old car; it is not a huge difference like we have seen everywhere else. It will be the same old Sonoma."
WHEN YOU HEARD THAT EARNHARDT JR. WAS GOING TO HENDRICK, WAS THERE ANY THOUGHT OF, GOSH, HE IS JOINING THE TEAM THAT HAS ALREADY WON MOST OF THE RACES THIS YEAR? "No. I was just real happy for him because he seemed so excited about it. I watched the announcement just like everyone else did, just like I did when he announced that he was leaving. So he just seemed real excited and I was real happy for him. Obviously it is a great place. Everybody always raves about how great of a place it is to work. Obviously Rick Hendrick takes care of his people and that is why everyone wants to go there. It will be interesting to see how Dale, Jr. can get in there and work with Jimmie and Jeff and Casey and those guys and who knows maybe we haven't seen the best of Dale, Jr. yet. Maybe he will go out there and he will win 60 percent of all of the races, who knows."
DO YOU THINK THAT THE DRIVER LINEUP THAT HENDRICK WILL HAVE NEXT YEAR IS A GOOD THING FOR THE SPORT? "I don't know, we will have to wait and see. I am not real sure what to think about it. They have got a lot of great drivers, which is what everyone wants. A lot of people have got a lot of great drivers; they have just got the whole package right now. Things change. We will see how it goes for him. I am interested to see how Junior is going to do in their cars. I think Junior is one of the best drivers out here and I think that they have some of the best equipment out here. So I am interested to see what happens with it."
WHAT HAS THE DIFFERENCE BEEN FOR YOU OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS? "We have just had a few things go our way finally. We have had great race cars all year long and we have had some crummy luck at times and that really showed what we were capable of as far as our finishes go. We ran very well all year long. I was real proud of my guys and my team for sticking with it and not giving up. That has been the biggest thing with just; we haven't had any trouble over the last couple of weeks."
ON HIS THOUGHTS OF GROWING UP AND RACING AND HIS FATHER: "Probably one of the coolest memories I have ever had was watching my dad win his first Busch North race. I was sitting at home on the couch and it was on TNN. So, it was cool to watch your dad on TV win a race. That was one of my best memories of my dad racing. As far as him and me and racing go together, he has pretty much got me to this level. He owned everything that I ever drove up until I got hired by DEI. We have had a lot of fun in the past, racing go carts and modified's and coming up through the ranks and everything. He is a smart guy that taught me a lot about racing. He still comes to the track just about every weekend and it is really a lot of fun to have him around."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT ALL OF THE TALK HAS BEEN ABOUT DALE EARNHARDT, JR.? "Shocker (laughs). No, he gets all of the attention."
IS IT SOMETHING THAT IS GOING TO MAKE THEM AKIN TO THE NEW YORK YANKEES? YOU KNOW, THE RICH GETTING RICHER TYPE OF THING? "I mean if you could compare it, yeah. They have won a lot of races this year and I am sure that they will in the future too. We will have to see. It is exciting. I am just real happy for Junior. He seems real excited about what is going on. He is a great friend. I am just as eager to see what is going to happen with all of that as you guys are."
WHAT WAS THE FIRST THING THAT HE SAID TO YOU WHEN HE FOUND OUT THAT IT WAS ACTUALLY GOING TO HAPPEN? "I found out when everyone else did. So, I mean, the biggest thing was when I talked to him after I heard and he just acted like it was a big relief. He finally got that out of the way. It was like he was dragging a big anchor around with him. We are happy for him and glad to see that he is excited and I wish him the best over there."
TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE UNIQUE TRAITS OF THIS TRACK: "It is a fun race track. It is a real momentum race track because it is so big. Multiple grooves. It is usually a really fun race because the guys are spread out all over the race track. If your tires wore out you can move around and find some stuff that really works for you. These are the kind of tracks that I really enjoy. I don't like tracks that you are stuck doing one thing and you have got to necessarily make your car fit the race track. You can kind of move it around and make it work with what you have got."
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE PULL HERE? "Part of getting the pull or qualifying is having a fast race car. That doesn't hurt anywhere I don't think. It surely doesn't mean that if you qualify bad that you are going to race bad. This is probably one of the least important places for qualifying, I think, because, like I said, the grooves, it's wide and you can race anywhere on it and it is real easy to pass if you have got a fast car in a race. It don't really matter."
IT SEEMS THAT WHEN YOU GET THAT FIRST WIN, EVERYTHING STARTS CLICKING AND EVERYBODY STARTS RUNNING BETTER. CAN YOU RELATE TO THAT? CAN YOU SEE THAT HAPPENING? "I think that it was just our time. It was meant to be. We have had some crummy luck this year. We have had fast cars and now for some reason, things have finally turned. Things change. Things go round, good luck/bad luck, so we have had our string of bad, I think, and it was just time for us to shine and it was our time to go out there and win and show everyone what we can do."
DO YOU SEE A DIFFERENCE IN CONFIDENCE IN YOUR GUYS? "Absolutely, every weekend now is, we can go there and win this race. It is not, well can we or what do we got to do to do this or, them questions are all gone. We still know the things that we need to get better on and we still know the challenges that we are going to face but we have got the confidence now knowing that we can beat all of those challenges. We can go out there and win the race, if we do things right. It is a good feeling. The guys are really pumped up. Everybody back at the shop is real excited."
YOU HAVE SAID THAT SINCE THIS DALE EARNHARDT, JR. THING BROKE THAT YOU THINK DEI WILL BE OKAY IN THE LONG TERM. THE RUNS THAT YOU GUYS HAVE HAD IN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS, HOW FAR DOES THAT GO TO BACKING THAT UP AND GIVING EVERYBODY CONFIDENCE THAT NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY? "I think that it pretty much should hush everybody up (laughs). It should squash all of that. They are working harder than they ever have to do everything right, to get the right people in place, to make our cars better. There is no reason why 42 other teams out here can make it without Junior but we couldn't. I love Junior to death, he is like a brother to me, he has been a great friend. Real excited for him with what he has got going on right now. We can do it."
AS A DRIVER, UNTIL YOU GET THAT FIRST WIN, IS THERE LITTLE SHRED OF DOUBT IN YOUR OWN MIND? "At times, you know, when things get tough. For awhile there, it seemed that things could never go right for us and I always just wondered why, what did we do to deserve this, and you get down when things are going bad. And they weren't necessarily going bad, we just, every time we had a good run we would pit and the caution would come out or, just stupid things would happen and it's like, you get so aggravated, so mad and that is when you start to question everything. Luckily I have had all of these guys in here, they have always done a good job of keeping me focused, keeping me pumped up and looking at the positives, you know, how well we ran, how fast the car was, looking at lap times compared to everyone on the race track and stuff like that. They have done a good job of always keeping me focused on the things that I need to focus on."
-credit: gm racing