Continued from part 1 Q: This time last year we were asking about Dale and that whole situation swelling around, and you've already been asked about your situation. We've heard a conversation about Mark Martin now. Do you feel that you've ...
Continued from part 1
Q: This time last year we were asking about Dale and that whole situation swelling around, and you've already been asked about your situation. We've heard a conversation about Mark Martin now. Do you feel that you've actually gotten the chance to race there without some sort of controversy hanging over you or the team?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No, I really haven't, to be honest with you. I think part of that is DEI being Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated. It's always been under a tough microscope. I think whether it was before Dale Jr. or after Dale Jr. it's always been that way. I think a lot of the people are harsh in their opinions of DEI and what they are, you know, the job they're able to do.
I think the perception of DEI is not as good as what it really is. So that's been tough at times. I've always had to -- seems like I've always had to stick up for them when there is really nothing to stick up for. So it's been a weird situation. It's always been something a little different. But there's always been somebody trying to, you know, make their job a little tougher than it should be, I think.
Q: How do you not let that distraction impact what you're trying to do on the track?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, for me, it's easy. I'm a racer. That's all I've ever done. I go to the racetrack to win. I put 110% of my efforts throughout the week to try to get ready for the next race, to try to do the best job I can for the company. You know, that's never changed.
No matter of circumstances, and I don't think it will ever. If it does, I'll probably quit. That's just what I do. That's what all the guys on my team have done. We just need to buckle down here and get it finished for the Chase.
Q: How much do you read about or try not to be distracted about what everybody writes about where you're going or what the internet says? If you let it, it could completely be distracting right now. It could be a lot of pressure on your shoulders and your decision to try to improve the team.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, I guess it's been whether I read it or not. Sometimes it's funny to look at it all and read about what people think they know. Sometimes it's aggravating that people are talking about you and it's making people on your team mad.
You know, guys are in the shop talking about it. Worried about what's going to happen, worried about their jobs and their futures. So from that side of it, it is really frustrating.
It's just the nature of the story. It's how it's been since I've been involved with it. It's always been like that. It seems that silly season starts earlier every single year. It seems like I'm in the middle of it every year somehow.
Q: A lot of people used to talk about Dale Earnhardt Jr. having the pressure, and he didn't like it of trying to improve the company. He felt it was on his shoulders. He's so free now because he doesn't have that, which now seems to be on your shoulders. If you would leave, they would say that's going to hurt the team. If you stay, you're trying to improve the cause. Do you like that pressure to be that involved?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yes and no. I mean, I'm not one to just walk out and take the easy road. I don't mind the challenge. I think if we succeed and we do our job, it's a lot more gratifying. We've got more pride in it.
Like when we won last year and we made the Chase, that was a huge deal for us, for me and my whole team. It would be no different this year if we can do it again.
So I think we're a bit of an underdog. I kind of like that situation. But at the same time if things aren't going right and people are pointing the finger and asking why you're not getting the job done, you've got to take the heat then, too. So it's a tough situation either way.
But I've really enjoyed my time there at DEI. I'm having fun still. As long as I can keep having fun and racing and being competitive, I think we're going to win a race in the next couple of weeks. I really feel good about this weekend.
In just a couple of weeks a lot of things could change. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.
Q: You touched on a little bit about your relationship with Bono. Could you just tell us a little more about his influence on you and how it's changed your strategy when you race and things like that?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, the biggest thing that me and Bono have going for us is confidence in each other. That's a big part of what we do. You know, communication between driver and crew chief, not just communications, but the trust and the confidence knowing that you can know that they're doing their very best for you. They believe in you and they think you're the best there is. I feel that way about Bono, and I think he feels the same way about me.
It all started from the first time I ever met him. We went to test in 2003 at Richmond. I was going to run Busch race there for a chance, too, which is how it all started for me, really, in the Busch Series. We went there to test. Then Dale Jr. got in the car, made a couple of laps. Came in and told him how the car was.
He told me to jump in it. Of course I didn't really know. I knew how to drive. I knew what I was going to go out there and try to do. But I was a little uncomfortable, I was a little nervous. I didn't know the guys, I didn't know Bono. And I remember it like it was yesterday. He said, Get in there. You know what you're doing. Just go do what you do.
It's always been like that with him. He's just been really, really good to work with. Very fun to work with, and he does a great job. I think he's one of the best crew chiefs there is out there.
Q: Seems like the anticipation and excitement goes up to another gear, you know, coming home and everything. Did he talk to you all about -- I don't know -- can you just kind of sense what it means for him? A lot of guys say this is their home area up here.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I could only hear part of that.
Q: Can you give a sense how much they want to win up here because this is kind of their old stomping grounds and where they grew up?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, I mean, we would take one anywhere, obviously. But New Hampshire is a cool place for all of us to go. A bunch of the guys on the team raced modifieds and things like that up there for a long time. And Bono's from up in Massachusetts. So it would be special. A lot of us raced there in the Cup series. So that would be a big deal for all of us.
Q: Do you have maybe two sets of agendas for this weekend because New Hampshire falls in the first race in the Chase? Maybe taking notes from this weekend to probably apply to that second race?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No, not really. I think we just need to go in there and, you know, make it happen. We need to get on a roll. We need to get some points. We need to get momentum going on our side like we did last year. We're a couple weeks later than we were last year, but, hopefully, it will come still.
You know, our flat track cars, short track cars have been good this year. Probably the best we've ever been. We're consistent on short tracks. So I look forward to New Hampshire.
I mean, looking forward to the second race there is important, but not as important as this week. So we need to just hope that we've got all our I's dotted and T's crossed and we just show up there on Friday.
Q: About the hot and cold streaks, success seems to burst at this level. Do you have any methods with your team to achieve success or retrieve it?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It's definitely an upanddown sport. You know, seems that there are a lot more bad days than there are good. It's an emotional roller coaster. It's a lot of fun at times. I've really enjoyed the challenges of all the different race tracks, all the different things we've got thrown at us.
This year with the new car a lot of things have been different. A lot of teams have been hot and cold. You know, without a lot of the problems and the bad luck, I really think that we wouldn't be sitting where we are. We wouldn't be feeling so bad about our season.
For a long time there we ran in the top 10 each week. We haven't had cars capable of winning like we did last year. We haven't been up leading in the top 5 every week. But we've been consistently in the top 10.
So it's just frustrating when you can't get the results. It's what if? We should have done this; we should have done that. It's frustrating. So we just need to minimize the mistakes. Perform better than we have all year from here on out.
It's important that we make the Chase. We need to. We made it last year. There's no reason our team shouldn't be up there. We've got a great team. You know, we need to make it.
Q: Is success mostly hard work? You mentioned the bad luck. Is success mostly hard work or good luck or is it more than that?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Success it takes a lot of different things. You need, you know, you don't need a lot of good luck, you just can't have any bad. We've had too much bad. But like I said, we haven't performed quite as well as we had last year.
So there's a lot that goes into it. With this new car a lot of teams have been developing stuff over the winter. A lot of teams have gotten better from where they were with this car last year. We haven't really found a lot that helped our cars. We ran really good with the C.O.T. last year. We really haven't found a lot from last year that's helped us.
So I think we've kind of fell behind a little bit or stayed where we were and a lot of guys caught up and passed. So a lot goes into it. The guys at the shop are working hard. Everybody's putting a lot of effort in. We just haven't quite found the success we're looking for yet.
Q: A lot of the talk this week has been about Regan not having sponsorship. How would you feel about DEI going to three teams next year?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I don't think it would be good at all. I think it would be a step backwards. I think part of the whole reason with the deal was to go to four teams, four drivers, four cars, four teams, more information spread throughout the company, more testing, more everything.
So if we're going to be competitive, we need to do it with four teams to keep up with Roush and Hendrick and them guys. So we'll just see what happens.
Regan's done a really, really good job. His new crew chief is really working well with him. They seem to work together really good. And he's done a really good job keeping that car in the top 35. So I think a couple of good runs, he'll get noticed. He won't have any problems get something sponsorship, and we won't have to worry about that.
Q: We have been asking this of other drivers and we keep pointing it out because of the popularity of NASCAR -- the question to us media people keeps coming up from younger people and even Parents -- what advice can you give to a young person want to go get into NASCAR? And how much have things changed since you started your career?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I don't think things have changed a whole lot since I've started. You know, it's a tough sport to get into. But the only thing you can do is go out and race and do what you love to do whether it's racing, working on the car, being the crew chief.
Whatever it is, if you love to race, you put everything you have into it. Work really, really hard, because it doesn't come easy. Just hope that you get that opportunity.
You know, there are a lot, a lot of people out there who can do jobs, who can driver these cars that are out there racing that never get the opportunity.
There's only 43 of us out there every weekend. We're a select few. We're very, very fortunate. But we've all worked hard to get here, and it can happen to anyone. You've just got to put your heart and soul into it and hope you get that opportunity.
Q: I wanted to ask you from week to week during the season how frustrating is it that you're not in the top 12? Do you and Bono sort of go over things to keep your spirits up?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It's very frustrating for us. Especially when we sit and look at the things that have happened to us and the amount of points that we've just let go, you know, thrown away, lost out on. It's very frustrating to look at that. But at the same time to take how well we ran, that is something that you can look at and we can build on.
It helps us with our confidence, definitely. If we run in the top 5 and we finish 43rd. We don't care if we finished 43; we ran in the top 5. That's what we have to look at. Without doing that you can't go to the next week and perform your best.
We take the positives out of everything we can. At the same time we don't try to fool ourselves. If we need to get better, we know it. So we work hard and try to do that.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks to Martin Truex Jr. Joining us today for the NASCAR cam video teleconference. Best of luck this weekend in New Hampshire
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Thank you, appreciate it.