Martin Truex, Jr - No 1 "Went to Atlanta, we ran well. We ran in the top-10 all day, we finished 10th. Bristol and Martinsville, we just really struggled. We brought stuff that we ran last year, our old cars. We ran 10th with them last year and...
Martin Truex, Jr - No 1
"Went to Atlanta, we ran well. We ran in the top-10 all day, we finished 10th. Bristol and Martinsville, we just really struggled. We brought stuff that we ran last year, our old cars. We ran 10th with them last year and this year, it just wouldn't cut it. We just really struggled. So, we went testing, did a lot of work for Phoenix. We learned a lot of stuff what the No. 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) was doing because they were running pretty good. At Bristol, Martinsville, they ran pretty well. We kind of put two cars together and built one and went to Phoenix and ran well.
"I guess if I had to look back and say something, we were just unprepared for the year. I mean, I think we brought stuff that we were running last year which was still just ok. It wasn't great and we really didn't work on it all that much. With all that happened, with all of us moving and with so many people coming and going, I really think we just kind of lost our way. We needed a little time to regroup. That is kind of why we started out slow. We had a few good runs in between there, but we had a few that were really bad too. You know in only seven races, you have a couple bad ones, it looks really bad. So, we are getting on the right track now, the right path.
"Our communication between the teams has been really, really good, between drivers. All of that has been great. The foundation is there to build a good team moving forward. We just needed a little bit of time to get all the parts and pieces together of what we needed here. What kind of cars we need to run. How we are going to do this. I think we have got it all moving forward on the right path and I think we will be good from here on out."
IS IT FRUSTRATING TO NOT RUN AS WELL AS YOUR TEAMMATE? "Yes, I mean, it is frustrating but you have to look at it, it is apples to oranges. When we were at Martinsville and Bristol, California, we had our old car and they had their car. I mean, you couldn't really compare it. Yes, we are teammates and we share information and our setups but we couldn't run the same stuff, everything is so much different. You really can't compare it. It is not like you can say man, we've got the same stuff and I can't run like he is running, why. It is not like that. It seems like when we have similar things, we run similar. That's what we did at the test. At Phoenix, our cars were very close, the setups were close. We ran pretty much the same. Juan had a good car, I had a good car. They had some problems in the pits, I think he got caught speeding, but he was going to be right there, right around us. That was a good first effort for us, for the first weekend of us being on the same page as teams. I look forward to more of that here in the next couple of weeks."
ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT PEOPLE DON'T KNOW THAT, THAT THERE IS THE PERCEPTION THAT THEY ARE THE SAME EQUIPMENT? "No, no. Absolutely not. It doesn't bother me one bit. I know what I can do. People that know me, know what I can do."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE PEOPLE IN THE GARAGE KNOW THAT? "Absolutely, I think so. You know there has been a lot of changes going on with where we are at. Obviously we have talked about it. Some people may not know the details, but I think, for the most part, we have had some good runs this year. We are 21st in the points which is disappointing, but we haven't ran bad. We have ran in the top-10 a few races. That is what we are capable of doing. We have had a few off weeks. But if you look around the garage, everybody has off weeks. Even the good teams. It is just so competitive, you can't....it is so easy to not hit is right and if you are not fully prepared and 100% effort in to getting better all the time. We sat on our hands all winter. Not because we wanted to, but that is what we were forced in to doing. It hurt us the first part of the season so now we getting back on track."
FORCED WHY? BECAUSE OF ALL THE CHAOS OF MOVING WITH A NEW TEAM? "Yea, absolutely. I mean, we still have...a lot of our guys on my team, are still in the same position but they were worried about moving cars and building cars so we had enough cars to go racing this year than they were about we need to go testing here, we need to work on this, we need to work on that. A lot of our engineering staff is different. Just a lot of things have changed. I think the No. 42 kind of stayed in the path that they were going at the end of last year. They found some things that worked for them, they worked on them over the winter and they really didn't have to change a whole lot. They stayed in their shop. They had all of their core group of guys working on their stuff and we had a lot of things change. I'm not making excuses by any means. We just weren't prepared when the season started to be consistent and we weren't. So that is what we are working on it."
JUST UNAVOIDABLE? "I don't know if it was unavoidable or we just didn't see it coming. I'm not real sure. I kind of seen it coming when we were bringing cars to the race track with setups exactly like we ran last year and the best we could do with them was 10th so I was a little nervous about it. But I thought, they are working hard and with the team I have, we could kind of make it up. At a couple of the races we couldn't do it."
DO YOU REGRET RETURNING THIS YEAR KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW ABOUT THE MERGER? "Well, you can't live in the past. I made the decision to stick with the team and try to work it out. From that day on, it is a 100% commitment, period. That is all it has been. You could say, 'oh man, I should have done this or should have done that'. But at the end of the day, I didn't and so, I have got to make it work. This is what I have got. I'm just trying to do the best job I can do. I think, like I said, we are making strides, we're going to be ok and we're going to make it work."
YOUR NAME IS OUT THERE A LOT, WHERE IS YOUR HEAD RIGHT NOW? "I'm not sure except I am focused. No matter what, I told Bob (Pockrass) this week on the phone, no matter what happens, until Homestead, at the end of the season, I am 100% committed to this race team. Getting these cars as good as I can. Getting back in victory lane. Trying to make up some points, gain some ground and make the Chase. No matter what. I don't even want to talk about what might happen or could happen. Because, I don't even know yet. So, I'm just doing all I can do. I have enjoyed working with Chip (Ganassi) and his group and Juan and Brian (Pattie, crew chief No. 42 Impala SS).
"Bob (Pockrass) said to me this week 'you sound pretty upbeat for a guy with his foot half out the door'. Well, like I said, I am 100% committed to what I am doing right now. This is my job. This is what I told them what I would do and this is what I am going to do, period. End of story."
IS THERE A DEADLINE WHERE YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT NEXT YEAR HOLDS? "Absolutely. I'm going through a process of going through all this stuff, taking care of it. Making sure everybody is fully aware of what is going on so I don't leave anyone in the dark. And just trying do for the future what is best for me, but like I said, at the same time, this right now is what is on my plate and I need to take care of it. I think it is going to get a lot better, I promise."
CAN YOU SHARE ANYTHING OR WHEN IT WILL BE? "If I had to guess, I couldn't tell you. It will come soon enough."
IF YOU SAY YOU AREN'T LEAVING PEOPLE IN THE DARK, THAT MEANS THE MORE PEOPLE THAT KNOW, THE MORE TALK THERE IS: "Well, I mean I am laying out the ground work to make the proper decisions. It is a tough process because obviously you have to like what is going on here. Whether I go or whether I stay, I need to keep these people happy. We need to stay on the same page and work hard to get better together.It is kind of a balancing act and it is something you have to juggle. But, right now I am focused and committed with this team 100% and we will move forward and see what we can make happen."
IS THERE A DANGER THAT IF YOU MAKE A DECISION TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT AT THE END OF THE YEAR AND THEN YOU HIT A STRIDE HERE THAT YOU BEGIN TO SECOND GUESS YOUR DECISION? "Don't look too much in to this. There are a lot of things that go in to this decision. Obviously with the economy the way it is, I need to put myself somewhere in a happy home somewhere for the next three to five years. Not just one year and there are a lot of things that are going to drive that decision. It is just like the decision last year, once I make a decision; I am not going to second guess it. You can't do that. You can't change your mind. Once you give somebody your work, your commitment, you have to live up to it. That is what I am doing now. Like I said, it won't be too much longer before everybody knows what's going on and me, hopefully."
HAS YOUR CRITERIA CHANGED SINCE LAST YEAR WHEN YOU WERE GOING THROUGH THIS PROCESS? "Yes, I am going to be a lot smarter this year I think. It is going to be a more thought out process than just how I did it last year. Las year, I was in a real difficult situation."
HOW SO? "I just was. It was a tough situation for me to be in, it really was. So many things were changing around me; I wasn't sure what way it was going to go. What way it would swing and I really thought that if I stayed, which I did, I thought I could make a big difference. And, I think I have helped. I think I have made a big difference. For me, that part was very gratifying. But at the end of the day, I need to do what is best for me. And whether that is staying at EGR where I am at now or going somewhere else, that is what I need to figure out and I need to figure all the different sides of it and all the details. What is going to happen, what could happen and it is just something you need to think about. It is hard to think about all that stuff two, three years down the road but it happens.
"I think I made a great decision last year, it is working out. I think we can go far with this team this year, I really do. It is just a matter of time. I think we got started late. We merged late. It all happened so late in the year; I really think we were just unprepared for the season."
ARE YOU UPBEAT BECAUSE YOU ARE MORE COMFORTABLE THIS YEAR BECAUSE LAST YEAR WAS SO EMOTIONAL AND GUT WRENCHING, LIKE NOTHING COULDN'T BE WORSE THAN LAST SUMMER? "It wasn't that difficult. As you do this year after year, you get more comfortable. I have these guys that I work with, they keep me up. I believe in them so much that they can do this job, I just have fun racing with them and that is why I am like this. I believe right now that we can win this race on Sunday, I think we can sit on the pole tomorrow. I think we can go to Richmond and Darlington and run well. I love to race, this is what I do. It doesn't matter what I am in or who is working with me, I am going to be the same way."
CAN YOU GO BACK TO THE TIMELINE OF WHEN YOU MOVED INTO THE GANASSI SHOP "Oh, January, maybe, Christmas break."
SO UP UNTIL THAT POINT, IT WASN'T CERTAIN WHERE YOU WOULD BE BASED? "Well, yeah. There was a lot of uncertainty in our shop. Who was driving this car? Who was driving that car? And what the sponsor would be. There were cars sitting there. They had kind of built a few cars but not really. A couple of the races we took cars that they built for Regan Smith last year or Paul (Menard) ran last year and we took them. So I don't know. There was a lot of weird stuff going on and nobody was really sure what direction to go. And once we finally moved and we got things together, we still had to go to the race track. We hadn't tested at all because they had no testing. That would have helped a bunch. We could have taken the No. 1 car and the No. 42 car and me and Juan (Pablo Montoya) could have run them and said, man this car is terrible. We need this and we need that. But we couldn't do that. We had to go to the race track. We went to California and struggled bad all weekend. I mean we could not do anything to fix that car. And it was like we had a tank out there racing against Ferraris (laughs). So we struggled with that. We finished wherever, I don't know, 30th or 28th or something really bad. We really rode around all weekend. It was really frustrating.
"But we went to Vegas and had a good run but we had problems, you know. Those things happen. But when you go to places like California where we've run really good in the past, we ran a top 10 in both races there last year. We've always run well there and to run like we did is frustrating. It's like man, what the hell are we going to do now? You've got to stop. Take a break, and look at everything and try to figure out what happened and what went wrong and then what to do to fix it. Fortunately for us, the No. 42 was pretty good, so we could look at that and learn from them. So we went to Vegas with one of our cars again and we ran pretty good. We had some problems. We didn't get the finish we should have. But we felt like, okay, the stuff we took to California definitely didn't work but it wasn't what we had run in the past. So we went back to Vegas with what we'd been running and it was okay, it wasn't great, but we ran in the top 10. We probably should have finished in the top 10 but like I said, we had problems. And then we felt pretty good and thought yeah, this isn't too bad. We'll work on our stuff and figure out what to do. We went to Bristol and we were terrible. We struggled all weekend. At Martinsville, we struggled all weekend again and we were like, all right, what are we going to do? And we went to Texas and struggled. We've always ran good at Texas. I mean always, top 10's every time. The No. 42 ran pretty good again. And we said okay, we're going to quit all this nonsense. We're going to start doing everything together.
"We went and tested, me and Juan, and he drove my car and I drove his and we threw a bunch of stuff together and I was like, that car, hands down, is better than mine. I want to take it to Phoenix. We put a front clip on my car that we ran at Martinsville. We went to Phoenix and were second quick right off the truck. The car drove great and was good all weekend. We didn't quality well but we raced well. So now we have a direction. And that's what we're working towards."
WHEN THE TWO TEAMS CAME TOGETHER, DID THEY WORK DIFFERENTLY? DID THEY EACH SAY WE DO IT THIS WAY AND OUR WAY IS RIGHT? "Absolutely. That's how it is with people. These guys are so proud of what they do and they put so much into it. You know, if you want to say you built something at your house and some guy comes over and says, "That's not the way to do it, I can do it way better than that," you're like man, I've just spent all this time and effort. I built this thing. This is the coolest thing I've ever done and the best thing I ever built. And that guy comes and tells you it ain't no good. What are you going to say? You know we've been competitors for so long, it just takes a little bit of time. And I think that the guys in upper management and the crew chiefs get it. Brian and Bono click together. They're solid. Everything is good with them. It's just a matter of just taking a little time and easing everybody's tension and getting them to trust each other and believe in what the other is doing and that's kind of where we're heading now. Like I said, the communication has been there. It's been unbelievable. The team effort has been the best that I've ever been part of so far. I know it's only a two-car team now, but really, I think it's going to be good. We've got everybody on the same page now and pulling together and I think we can make some good things happen."
DID IT TAKE SOME SWALLOWING OF PRIDE AND SAY MAYBE WE SHOULD LOOK AT THE NO. 42 AND SEE HOW THEY DO THINGS? "You'd have to ask Bono about that. I think yeah. Like I said, you get put in that situation and I think Bono was a little stubborn at times maybe about the way we've always done it. But things change. Everybody here has gotten better throughout the garage and we kind of didn't. We talked about it. But we just had to figure out the right way of going about it. You can't just have a fire sale and say we're going to change everything and do this all different. You need to put some thought into it and you need to test it and go through all the processes. I think we've been through all the bad stuff. I think we've got all the bad runs and the bad out of the way and I think we've got a direction of what we need to do and start capitalizing on it."
YOU CARRIED THE BANNER FOR DEI. YOU WERE A CHASE GUY "Yeah, we were last year too until the penalty at Daytona which just knocked us down. We were right there on the verge and it just went the wrong way. It could have gone either way. It is what it is, you know. We do the best we can every weekend. I put everything I have into it. I think in the right situation with the right cars and with the team I have I think that we can win again. There is no doubt. I know I can win. I'm not done winning, I promise you. That's not happening. That's what I'm here for. I've won everything I've ever driven. I've done it before. Now it's just a matter of making it happen again."
-credit: gm racing