Toyota Motorsports press release
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing
How do you feel about the start to the season? "It's been a good start to the season for us. The whole NAPA team has done a good job -- everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) has done a nice job. For us, it's just about coming here and trying to keep it rolling. We've had about 10 or 11 good races in a row here going back to last year. That feels good. Martinsville is a place that has been a tough one for me throughout my career. The last year to year-and-a-half, I feel like we've had some good runs here. Just continue to build on that. Looking forward to racing here this weekend and having a good run. So far, practice today went well and things are looking good for the weekend."
Is it more difficult to do well at Martinsville when you have had recent success? "No, I don't think so. If you're fast, you're fast. Nobody can do anything about that. If that was the case then the guys that have won a bunch wouldn't still be winning. I feel like for us it's just that the momentum's good. The team is doing a good job. I wouldn't say we're running that much better, but we're doing it consistently. We're being consistent. We're not beating ourselves. We do all the little things right and our stuff is good. There's definitely more speed in the car, but it's on a more consistent basis. Last year, there were times that we were really, really fast, but we couldn't do that each week. It seems the past 10 or so races we've been consistently fast -- not the fastest car, but we've been in the top-five or top-10. That's what we need to keep doing. We need to keep staying there and keep constantly working on it. If you keep running in the top-five, top-10 then sooner or later you're going to put yourself in position to win. That's what we're trying to do."
What do you talk about with the other drivers during the pre-race parade laps? "It depends on the person I guess. It seems that some days you can tell if the guy you're riding with is going to run pretty good or if he's had a pretty tough weekend. Sometimes you talk about the race track and the groove and what it looks like, what you think about the weather, how's your car, what do you think the track is going to do today? Sometimes they'll be like, 'I don't really know.' You know they know, but they won't tell you. It's usually awkward conversation to be honest. It's like awkward silence. It's not very comfortable, that's for sure."
How hard is it to avoid contact at Martinsville? "It's near impossible, especially if you're running good. There's times when you just bounce off the curb a little, the guy on the outside will pinch you off a little too much sometimes. It's just a part of racing here -- beating and banging a little bit. Obviously you don't try to run people over, but at any time during the race you're going to be running into somebody or getting run into. It's just the way it is here. When you fire off here on stickers, it's a little bit slick for two or three laps. It takes a little time for the air to come up, air pressures to build. You typically run very low air pressure here. All those things combined with the tight race track and kind of a one-groove place, you end up banging into guys and denting fenders. The cool thing about it here is you're not relying on down force, if your fenders are beat in and your splitters' knocked in the air, you can still run fast."
Was it a relief to run well early this season after the changes at MWR? "I don't know if it was a relief, but I felt really good about where we were as a team at the end of last season. I don't think I went into the off season nervous or saying, 'Okay, I hope we can just keep this going. I don't know where we're at.' I felt good about where we were. We were heading in a good direction and continuing to work in that direction, so I felt really good about it. You never know. This sport -- things in this sport change so fast. We could have won the last -- we've seen times when somebody will run really good for the last couple races of a season and start out of the box next year and all of the sudden they are trying to do the same things and it's not working. Definitely, obviously happy that it worked. I had a lot of confidence, but you never know at the end of the day. Just proud of what everybody's done. Hopefully, we need to just keep working in that direction and keep getting better."
Are the recent results at MWR a result of a long-term process or recent changes? "It wasn't just one thing that we did. It was a lot of changes -- a lot of work by a lot of people through last year -- to get where we were at the end of last year. I feel like the stuff that we did in the off-season bringing in those guys, I think those are the things that are going to take us into the future more. I feel like a lot of the stuff we did changed before the end of the year last year, but there's no doubt the guys that we've brought in with Scott (Miller, executive vice president of competition) and the drivers (Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin) we've brought in and the new crew chiefs (Brian Pattie) -- all that stuff I feel like is going to help us make that next step. And that's where we're at now is just looking for that next step, so hopefully we'll be able to get there."
What were you first impressions of Martinsville? "Well the first time I ever came here was in '06 to run the Cup car. I heard a lot of stories about it. My dad and my uncle used to all to come down here every year for the modified race. They used to run in it -- both used to run that race and so that was like their Daytona 500 when they run modifieds at the local tracks, so I always heard a lot about this place -- how much fun they had, how big of a deal it was. But like I said, I had never raced here until '06 when I came here for the Cup race."
Are there any similarities between Texas and Kansas? "Those two tracks are completely different -- about as far apart as you could get on mile-and-a-halfs. Texas -- big, fast -- it feels a lot bigger than Kansas, even though it's not. And the banking and the speed there is incredible. It's one of the fastest tracks we go to. Kansas is more -- if you were comparing California (Auto Club Speedway) and Michigan, it would be more like California. It's a lot slicker. It's got the seams in it. It feels a lot slower -- a lot less banking, so the speeds are down. Both tracks are very difficult, but are both tracks I've had good success at in the past."
Do you get any reaction time for accidents at Martinsville? "You do, but when you get -- things do happen fast, but when you get in situations like that, to be honest, it actually happens in slow motion. I don't know what it is, but it felt like it took 30 seconds from the time I knew my throttle was sticking to the time I hit the wall, so I guess when you get scared you just somehow things all slow down and it all happens kind of weird. It's kind of an eerie feeling, but yeah it was a crazy crash. Obviously the cars are safe and we thank God for that."