An interview with: Martin Truex, Jr. HERB BRANHAM: Welcome to today's NASCAR CAM video teleconference. It's in advance of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That is the Magic Mile in Loudon, New Hampshire....
An interview with: Martin Truex, Jr.
HERB BRANHAM: Welcome to today's NASCAR CAM video teleconference. It's in advance of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That is the Magic Mile in Loudon, New Hampshire. And the race is the Lenox Industrial Tools 301.
Special guest today joining us from the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina, we have Martin Truex. Martin's the driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boat Chevrolet for DEI. Martin's currently 17th in the series standings. He's only 107 points out of 12th place, which is the final cutoff for eligibility into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Martin, two top 5 finishes at New Hampshire last year. Great efforts both instances. What did those runs do for you as you come into this year and this week's event?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, we're definitely looking forward to going back to New Hampshire. It's always been a good track for me. From back in my Busch series days, I won a Busch race there. And we've always run well in the Cup Series.
So had a great car there last year both races. Had a shot at winning the first one, led some laps and came up a little short at the end. But definitely looking forward to going back there this year and trying to get on a roll here. We need to make up some points and try to get in the Chase.
Q: Your name has been thrown up a lot in the garage as far as your future goes -- can you give us any indication right now what you're thinking about for the future?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Way to start it off. You know, I'm not sure. Right now we're working hard with DEI to put some things together for next year. Really it's just a lot of -- it's taken a little bit longer than expected for both of us, both sides - on my side and on DEI's side.
We're just trying to get through the details. For me, it's just trying to get comfortable and be comfortable in the position I'm in what they're doing and the direction they're headed for the future, so I can make sure that we can be together for a long time.
Q: What are you looking for as far as comfort? Is it the fact that you want race victories? What else are you looking for?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, a lot of things. You know, good direction for the future of a championship. I think obviously there are some things going on with our race cars and other teams that I'm not quite sure what's happened with them. So just a lot of things here and there.
The performance hasn't been as good as it's been this year for whatever reason. We've had an okay season. We've run really well at times and we've run not so well at times. So we've had a lot of bad luck spread throughout the season, especially the beginning part of the year which has got us in this position right now.
We really just need to dig deep for now and try to get a win or two before the Chase starts. We really just need to get some points and try to make the Chase and battle for that championship like we did last year.
Q: Do you have a timetable for that decision?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No. But we're working on it every day, really, so just as soon as we can get it all ironed out.
Q: Where you are in the points and what not right now, over the next ten races leading to the Chase, does this make you want to race more aggressive, take more chances because you're 17th in points? Or do you maybe have the points race now more than you ever had to?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: You know for us we're really we need to be aggressive. We need to get all we can. You know, we really dug ourselves a hole up until this point. Like I said earlier, we had a lot of good runs early part of the season you know that slipped away for whatever reason.
We had a lot of bad luck. We made some mistakes. We had some problems with our cars as far as engine failures and things of that nature. So we really dug ourselves a pretty big hole that I don't feel like as a race team we should be in.
We've got a great team, and I think we're more than capable of being in the Chase. But it's all about results, and we haven't got them. So we need to go out and get them now. We're running out of time. There's no time for excuses.
We can't say what might have been or we should have done this, we should have done that. It's not going to get anything done. So guys are working really hard at the shop. Bono and all the guys on my team have been doing a good job. We just need to put it all together and it's go time for us now.
Q: As far as the tracks go, what do you think is the biggest challenge in these next ten?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I'm not sure. I don't think any of them are more of a challenge than the next. We've run very well at all different racetracks. I think if we can go to Loudon this weekend and have a really good run and get that momentum back on our side, that will help a lot.
Daytona is a little bit of a crap shoot, but, other than that, I feel like we've run well everywhere. So we just need to go out and get the results.
Q: Just wanted to ask you, you mentioned your success at New Hampshire and I know that you came up through the ranks. I wonder if you could speak about what it was like as a younger driver on the -- I guess it was the Busch North Series back then -- what it meant to get to New Hampshire? How it helped you, and how it can help other guys that are in these developing series to come off the bull rings a little bit and to get to race in a facility like this?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah. New Hampshire was the biggest race of the year for us every time we went there. It was like our Daytona. It was the biggest, fastest track we raced on. Most of the other places were half mile, threequarter mile bull rings. When we go there, the Cup cars would be there or the Busch cars and the trucks.
So we'd get to racing in front of a lot of people that could give us a chance one day. That's how it happened for me. It helped jump start my career, had a lot of success there growing up. And that is the big reason why I've got the chances I've had and where I'm at today.
I don't think that's changed to this day. When the guys are in running in the World Series up there, they're up there to showcase their talent. They're up there knowing that everybody in the Cup series is up there on the trail watching for some new talent. It's a big weekend for everybody to just go in and race.
Q: I noticed your crew chief has got modified racing on Saturday. Does it eat your heart out at all that you're not in that race on Saturday? Have you ever been tempted to go back in to a mod for a racing adventure?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, I get he tempted all the time to do a lot of different stuff like that. Especially, with the modified. But I think I've kind of come to my senses and thought better of it. I think if something happened to jeopardize my Sunday. So just trying to focus on that and do the best job I can with that.
Q: Just wanted to ask you if you could talk about what it would mean for you personally to win at New Hampshire. Especially with Kevin Manion as your crew chief? You guys have so many local fans there.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It would mean a lot. We won our first race at Dover. That was huge, that was a big deal for all of us, especially for me and my family. To win at New Hampshire would be right there with it. Growing up, racing there. Watching my dad win races. He won his first Busch North race back in the day at that track.
Like I said before, it's been a really, really good track for me. It's a big part of the reason why I'm sitting here today talking to you guys. It would definitely mean a lot. It would be right up there with the first one, I think.
Q: Can you also explain what are some of the challenges of New Hampshire as far as the track goes?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, I mean, it's a tough little racetrack especially since they redid the banking on it. They made it real, real racy. The second groove is really the preferred groove now, and it makes for really good sidebyside racing.
It's really, really hard to complete a pass. You can get under a guy in the corner and go down under the corner underneath him. It's really hard to complete the pass. So guys run side by side all day. It makes it a lot of fun.
The challenges are like any short track. You use a lot of brake in New Hampshire kind of like Richmond. It's really hard to get your car turned in the middle of the corner, so you're basically working on that all weekend. Probably the biggest challenge is getting your car turned to center.
Q: I don't know if you had the opportunity to talk a little about the experience you drew upon when you first got into a DEI car? That was when you replaced Dale when he got burned out in Sonoma and did it at New Hampshire. Did you kind of feel the full weight of what it was like to sit in that car and to maybe be the point person of DEI?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, that was kind of a weird situation for me, you know. Getting into Junior's car that day was -- I don't know -- I did it more as a favor to him as a friend. I hated to see him in the situation he was in. He was having a good season up until then and he got hurt. I hated to see that.
I really wasn't in any way excited to get in the car, to be honest with you. I just did it for him and his team and the whole company to try to make the best out of the situation.
Q: You think that might have opened their eyes to you as to possibly being someone that could fit in with that company?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, I think. I mean, we've already won races. And I think if I remember right we'd already won a championship in Busch Series. So we were kind of on our way to building something for the future.
But I think when I got in there, and that was my first time ever really sitting in a Cup car, and I went out there and qualified third with it. So that was exciting for all of us. You know, I think they were excited about it, and looking forward to the possibilities of running me in a Cup car in the future.
Q: Last year there was so much made about you being the new face of DEI when Dale left the company. Do you feel like you've settled into that role now?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, I do. I feel comfortable with where I'm at and what I'm doing. You know, not a lot has changed as far as the way I go about doing my job, which has been good.
The cars, like I said, the cars haven't been running quite as good as we wanted them to. I've taken a lot of that on my shoulders and trying to get them better. Trying to get in there and work with the right people and help them figure out what's wrong.
That's really the only thing that's changed is they put a lot more on my shoulders as far as that goes.
I just go out and do the same thing I've always done. I race hard. Put 110% into everything I do at the racetrack and during the week trying to get ready for the next race. That's what I've always done.
Q: Is it strange to race against Dale Jr. as an opponent now or competitor versus a teammate?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It's not a whole lot different. We're still really good friends. We talk about racing still. We talk about other stuff. It's good to see him having the success he's having with the changes that he made.
I'm just trying to do the best I can and just really looking forward to this weekend. Really looking forward to trying to getting in the 112 points or so we need to get in the Chase. We were looking good earlier and made some mistakes and had some things happen. We really, really need to get in that deal, so we need to get to work.
Continued in part 2