MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS MONTE CARLO SS CASEY MEARS, NO. 25 NATIONAL GUARD / GMAC MONTE CARLO SS TRUEX JR.: "We were kind of sad to see the end of the season come around because things were going well. But obviously the season...
MARTIN TRUEX JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS MONTE CARLO SS
CASEY MEARS, NO. 25 NATIONAL GUARD / GMAC MONTE CARLO SS
TRUEX JR.: "We were kind of sad to see the end of the season come around because things were going well. But obviously the season didn't go the way we wanted to. We had a lot of things happen that were out of our control. And we made a lot of mistakes as a team. I feel like we learned a lot last year and at the end of the year we really showed what we were capable of. And hopefully we can come out of the box strong here at Daytona and have a great season."
DO DRIVERS GET ANY BENEFIT AT ALL FROM TESTING?
TRUEX JR.: "Not really, here. It's basically just trying to get your car faster. You can pretty much put anybody in there here and learn the same thing. So here, not so much; but most other places, yeah, it's a big help. Drafting here is good for experience and good to figure out what your car likes and doesn't like for when you come back for the race. But running two laps by yourself all day doesn't do much for you as a driver."
WHEN YOU HAVE YOUR SHARE OF BAD LUCK, HOW DO YOU BUILD CONFIDENCE WITH YOUR TEAM? DO YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT?
TRUEX JR.: "You just keep plugging away you know. That's what happened and what we did last year. It seemed like every time we had a decent run going or had a car capable of running up front, something would happen to us. It was just one of those years when nothing would ever go right, it seemed like. And it's tough. It beats you up. You question yourself and your team and your cars and just everything out there. But you've just got to keep working hard and a couple of good runs will turn that stuff around."
LAST YEAR YOU HAD SUCH A FAST PIT CREW AND THIS YEAR, THEY GOT KIND OF TAKEN AWAY
TRUEX JR.: "Yeah, we lost both of our tire changers, actually. I believe one boy went to the No. 15 car and the other kid went to another team. That was unfortunate because we had such a great pit crew. But we've got a great coach. Walt Smith does a great job over at DEI finding the right people and putting them together and making them practice hard and I'm confident we'll have another great pit crew this year."
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THE ROOKIES COMING UP THIS YEAR?
TRUEX JR.: "Expect anything. I don't know. I think it's different for everybody. It depends on what kind of team you come in with and who you're driving for and where your experience level is. I think it's different for everybody. We came in as a whole team of rookies and it kind of surprised us how hard things were and how tough it was to get in the swing of things and get going off the bat when you're racing so much. It just depends on the situation you're in I think."
DOES WHAT'S GOING ON WITH DALE EARNHARDT JR. AND HIS CONTRACT BECOME A DISTRACTION FOR THE ORGANIZATION AS A WHOLE?
TRUEX JR.: "I don't think so. Everybody knows what their job is. We go to the race track or to the shop every day and none of that changes as far as what everybody is doing and what they're working on and what they're trying to accomplish. I don't think it distracts anybody really at all."
COULD YOU IMAGINE DEI WITHOUT A DALE EARNHARDT JR.?
TRUEX JR.: "I don't know. I don't think anybody could. He's been there since they started. It would be different, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens."
HOW DID YOUR DAY GO?
MEARS: "So far, things are pretty smooth. Being with a new team and the organization and working with a bunch of new guys at Hendrick Motorsports has been a fairly easy transition. I knew a lot of the people there already. As far as today at the track, thing are good. The car is fast. They felt like it's one of the faster speedway cars they've had in the last few years. And for me, it's been the fastest I've been on a superspeedway in a while. So it's been a good day so far."
WHEN YOU WENT FROM ONE TEAM TO ANOTHER, GOING TO HMS, WAS THERE ANYTHING THAT REALLY SURPRISED YOU?
MEARS: "It wasn't any one huge thing, but just a lot of little things that I noticed. They have a ton of resources. There are a lot of teams that have a lot of resources, but having the people to back that up and to have a lot of specialty parts and pieces and detail work on the car has been impressive to look at. The cars I drove last year were awesome cars and great pieces, but it seems that these guys are able to spend a little more time and their attention to detail is maybe a little bit more. But nothing real big. Just little things all the way through. You expect when you come to a team like Hendrick Motorsports to maybe see some differences and they haven't let me down so far. It's a pretty impressive place from top to bottom."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR HUNTING TRIP YOU JUST CAME BACK FROM AND THE COMPETITIVENESS YOU HAVE WITH TONY EURY JR. AS FAR AS HUNTING IS CONCERNED AND WHO IS WINNING?
TRUEX JR.: "Well, I'm winning for the year. Yeah I went out to Texas. I had a lot of fun out there. It's good to get out there in the woods. I've enjoyed it since I was a little kid. It's just nice to get out there away from everything. Your phones don't work. You don't have TV or radio or anything. You just go out there and gather your thoughts and think about what's coming up for the year."
DO YOU NOTICE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT THE CAR AND THE WAY IT HANDLES?
MEARS: "The way the cars drive around Daytona from team to team it's just not a whole lot different. It's an easy wide open and you don't notice a whole lot of handling differences. There have been some different little things here and there. The speeds have been good. We're running really well and so far pretty happy with the speed the car is putting out. There are some little differences here and here in the way they approach the test, but as far as the way the car feels, there is not a whole lot of difference."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR OFF-SEASON ADVENTURES?
MEARS: "Yeah, my off season was pretty productive - almost too productive really, as far as having fun. It was so busy. I got a lot of free time to spend and relax a little bit. But I got a new four-seater off road car. Right after Homestead, I ran Turkey Night and ran the Midget and Sprint car. That was a lot of fun. I didn't have the best night, but it was a good experience. From there, I took the new off road car down to Glamis for a couple of days and rode around the sand dunes with my parents and then down to Baja to my dad's house and spent a couple of weeks there and helped my dad work on his house a little bit. We framed some walls and did some drywall and some concrete and plumbing. It was actually kind of relaxing. Every now and then we'd take a break and do a little fishing. From there we went to Zihuatanejo, Mexico with my brother and sister in law and my mom and dad and niece and nephew and spent Christmas. We came back home and went down to Key West and met up with Rick and did a little fishing and went back up to Orlando and spent New Years with some friends. And now I'm back and it's good to be back working so I can rest a little bit."
DO YOU FEEL PRESSURE TO WIN A RACE?
TRUEX JR.: "We probably put more pressure on ourselves than anybody possibly could. I think most of us don't pay much attention to everybody else's opinions. I'm pretty hard on myself I know, about trying to win and doing the best job I can do. So outside pressure is not really a thing that affects me."
MEARS: "One of the questions I've gotten a lot is just going to Hendrick Motorsports in general and the success they've had and the drives who are doing well there right now, I agree with Martin in that we put so much pressure on ourselves to do well and want to succeed to much that I don't think anybody could put any more pressure on us. But at the same time, going to Hendrick Motorsports and knowing there's not a question about whether the equipment is there or not, feels good. It allows me to just focus on what I need to improve on and what I need to do. Hopefully Lance (McGrew, crew chief) and I can hit if off good and communication works well and we can take advantage of what's there."
THE HISTORY OF THE NO. 25 CAR LAGS BEHIND THE OTHER CARS AT HMS. IS THAT A CONCERN?
MEARS: "Not at all. I've talked to Rick Hendrick a lot and he's stressed fact that they are very focused on getting this team up to speed this year, and have been trying to do all they can just to make that happen. I don't worry about that a whole lot. To be honest, I'm so happy to be here right now that there will be things that will develop throughout the year that we find we have to work on and we're going to find out our issues as we go. But there is so much opportunity there right now and there is no lack of anything when it comes to the No. 25 car when it comes to the other teams."
-credit: gm racing