Toyota MENCS Playoffs Media Day Martin Truex Jr. Quotes

by Official Release On Thu, Sep. 13, 2018

Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Playoffs Media Day – September 13, 2018

Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media in Las Vegas:

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing

Do alliances work and is there a timeframe on how long they can be successful?

“I don’t think in either situation, whether it was their (Stewart Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports) or ours, I don’t think that had anything really to do with how both of them changed – you get what I’m saying? The Stewart Haas thing, they had a huge deal offered by Ford and they said they’d be stupid not to do this and do it all on our own and grow our team. In our case, we just basically got put in a really bad time crunch. I think had we had three months, we probably could have put it all together and made it all happen. We just got really put in a bad spot on timing, we couldn’t get everything done in four weeks – find 10 million dollars and put it all together. I don’t think there was ever any hard feelings between either of the teams. No matter how we did or how the other team did, I always felt like it was a great situation for us to be in and obviously, here we sit with the opportunity to win another championship and I don’t feel like it’s any different than it was the first year we raced together. I think it can work. It comes with challenges obviously because it costs you more to race that way than owning four cars and having all the stuff in house. Obviously you race for less dollars per car the more you have, the more stuff you do on your own. In the alliance situation, you have to buy stuff that adds cost. Certainly the way we raced at Furniture Row costs a lot more than the big teams to perform at the same level or have similar equipment.”

Do you feel you would still be in this situation if you had not been beating Joe Gibbs Racing?

“That has nothing to do with the situation that we got in. We were trying to put together, to finish up a long term deal to keep the same things going and the sponsor pulled out, we didn’t have enough money suddenly and we didn’t have enough time to find it to fill that void. Barney (Visser, team owner) had no way to agree to do those deals and keep them going without the money coming in because there was no way that he could make it work. It’s really as simple as that, it has nothing to do with who’s running this and who’s running that, or who was winning and who wasn’t. It had nothing to do with that. People just don’t know the whole story and are obviously upset about things and that’s understandable, but at the end of the day it’s just not factual.”

What is the vibe with your team heading into the Playoffs?

“I feel like we’re in a great place. We definitely want to repeat, no question about it. I think you could take it one of two ways, you could hang your head down and say, ‘This sucks, why are we in this position,’ and get mad at the world or you can look at each other and say, ‘Let’s go do this.’ That’s where we’re at. I feel like our team, look 2014 we all were not very good and you look at the names on our team and when you say some of the names on our team that worked there, their names were made at Furniture Row. They were made because Barney gave us the opportunity to work there at a great place and gave us all the tools that we needed to go win a championship. I think all of us, we look at that and say, ‘Hell yeah, let’s go do this. Let’s send Barney out on top and let’s give him the best going away gift that we ever could.’ I feel like, I honestly, truly feel like that is our mindset and that’s our focus and I have no questions about where our team is and how they’re going to approach the Playoffs.”

Are you the perfect person to lead your team through this with how your career has been up and down?

“I’ve had a lot of practice for sure, there’s no question. I’ve been tested a lot and had to go through adversity quite a bit, but that’s life as you know, that’s just part of it. How you get through those things is how you show what you’re made of. Anybody can win, anybody can have great days and have everything go their way, that’s easy, anybody can do that. When you show your true colors are when you’re put in tough situations. I’ve got a great team behind me and I know we have what it takes and we’re going to go to work these next 10 weeks and see if we can make it happen.”

Do you feel a sense of urgency this year knowing the race package could change next year?

“I’m not sure how to answer that to be honest, I don’t know and I haven’t really thought about that. We ran the All-Star package once and we ran up front and had a shot at winning until we got crashed. I would assume there will probably be more of that next year and we’re probably going to tear up a lot more cars when we run that package, but as far as being competitive, a lot of it is just team chemistry, the way you work together, from top to bottom having the best guys and being able to build fast race cars and ultimately when you get to the race track being able to work together as a group to find advantages and find ways to beat other guys. I think no matter what the package has been since 2015, we’ve been able to do that. That being said, obviously things are going to be different next year, I won’t be at Furniture Row, I’ll be driving something else and the cast of characters might be different so it will be a different challenge. To answer your question, I don’t know. I think there’s going to be a lot of things different next year for me in particular and we’ll just have to see how we can deal with all that.”

Do you think what Barney Visser went through last year with his health made this decision easier?

“I would say probably and in talking to him, I kind of gather that and I know he mentioned it so obviously it’s on his mind and he’s thought about it. He’s got a huge family, lots of grandkids and loves spending time with them and they’re a huge family and I think some of that or part of that made it easier. More time to spend with them, less stress, a lot less to worry about to make sure the money’s coming in and that we’re getting what we need – you know, it takes so much to keep these race teams going, especially a small team like ours with the way we were having to do things, it was a high stress level I would say. I think that’s part of it, but from what I gather from working with him this long and talking with him, he cares more about the people. It’s what kept him spending, it was being able to see him bring in these guys and give them a huge opportunity and seeing them thrive in that situation and take advantage of those opportunities. You look at Cole (Pearn), you look at Jazzy, you look at me – there are so many guys on our team, guys that moved from North Carolina because they wanted to come out there and work in Colorado. To go through all that and win a championship, I felt like now his biggest thought is how can I make sure that these guys can keep going and help them land in a good spot. For him, he says for all you guys this is a career, for me this is a hobby. I think he understands that and obviously the things that he’s been through and his family has helped him realize that I’m sure. I feel like through all of it, he’s proud of what he’s done, but he has no regrets and I’m sure he’s going to miss it when we’re racing next year and he’s not around or doesn’t have a car out there, but I think for sure all the stuff he’s been through has probably helped him make the decision or be at peace with it a bit.”

Do you think having sponsorship on the car made it tough for Barney to go back to funding the race team?

“I really don’t think it’s connected at all, I think things just changed for him. In the way and in the money he had to spend and the way he was doing it all, all those things and everything changed and he couldn’t go back to doing that. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to, it was that he couldn’t.”

Are there concerns that some team members might leave before the season ends?

“No, no concern.”

Is it good or bad that you have two other guys having equally good seasons to you?

“I don’t look at it like that at all, I look at our situation, I look at what we have to do. If we take care of ourselves, we don’t have to worry about anybody else. If you’re thinking about what other guys are doing and watching them, then you’re not focused. If we can do all those little things right and be mistake free and be consistent, finish where we run, I know we can make the final four, no question. It’s the other things, it’s the things out of our control or out of my control that worry me. The Roval, Talladega, freak engine failure, you blow a tire, your brake rotor explodes like Indy last week, where are you at then? The first round should be simple, but at the end of the day in racing you just never know what can happen.”

Where do you see yourself in the championship run and how do you like your chances?

“I love our chances, I know we have what it takes and that’s a bit piece of the puzzle. That being said, it’s tough – 10 races, three elimination rounds and I’ve been racing most of my life and I know a lot can happen. This year alone, it’s been a roller coaster season and it’s been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of high highs and kind of low lows. For us, it’s been feast or famine, I feel like we’re either in the top-five or we’re 15th or crashed. It’s really been no in between and if you look at it, we had zero finishes between fifth and 10th. Zero. So we were either in the top-five or we were outside the top-10. So that’s something that worries me a little bit and we’ve talked about it, looked at it, whatever. It’s hard to do anything about it, you know. Sometimes things just happen and you’re like, ‘How do we fix that?’ And you just can’t, it’s fate, there’s nothing you can do about it. I look at our potential and what I know we can do and the past three weeks are a perfect example – we get crashed at Bristol running second, running second in Darlington and have an issue on pit road, lose two laps and never could recover and then of course last week we made 40 laps and exploded a brake rotor, but we had a lot of speed. I key on the speed as a driver, I know we’re fast, I know we can win races and I know if we just do all the little things right we’ll be in position. Can we capitalize is the question. That’s always the hardest thing to do in racing is can you take advantage of all the opportunities? When the race is on the line, can you have that pit stop that keeps you out front or keeps you in position. It’s the little things like that, that make the difference. We were able to be perfect at all that last year. Average finish was stupid like two-and-a-half or something throughout the Playoffs and that’s what it takes to put yourself in position and even that’s not guarantee. A lot can happen, but I know we can do it, it’s just a matter of going out there and getting it done.”

How much do you worry about your future right now?

“Only maybe on Tuesday or Wednesday. Monday you’re winding down from that race the day before and figuring out what could we have done better and you write it down and then Wednesday your focus turns to the next one. That stuff is weekday stuff that really you try not to let in any way come into what you’re doing in the moment.”

Could you imagine starting something completely new in your career now like Fernando Alonso is doing?

“Actually I could, especially after winning a championship here. That’s the ultimate goal, that’s why we do this. Not saying I’m going to stop at one, obviously I’m coming back next year, just so you know, clear that up. Honestly, if you look at his career and what he’s done and where he’s at, absolutely, it makes perfect sense. Try something different. He’s still young and still growing as a driver, a lot to learn, even though he’s got world championships, as a race car driver you’re always evolving and racing is always changing with technology so you have to adapt. New challenge where he’s at sounds like something really fun.”

Are you someone that compartmentalizes regular season and now we’re in to post season?

“I certainly think a lot carries over from what we’ve done already this year to the Playoffs. That being said, it’s definitely a different feeling when you hit that break and then you come here to Vegas and you start the Playoffs. You know the pressure is ramped up, there’s a lot on the line and there’s no more swinging for the fences and just trying to get the bonus points and wins, here if you have a couple bad finishes you will find yourself in a bad spot. Just trying to focus in on doing the right things and for us last year we did a great job of that and hopefully we can back it up.”

Do you like Las Vegas being the Playoff kickoff race?

“Yeah, it’s a fun place to come and kickoff the Playoffs and it’s been a good track for us. We won here last year and I think we ran fourth this spring, but that being said it’s going to be a lot different race this time around. Coming later in the season is always different, but really it’s the weather – 100 degrees on Sunday is going to be quite a challenge and it will be a lot different than normal. Excited about it and excited to get it all kicked off and at the same time have a little bit of questions and we’ll see how it all goes, optimistic and excited to get going.”

How do you change your practices with the heat?

“It’s really up to the teams and engineers and crew chiefs to come here and really have the right mindset and have the right approach. We have a short practice on Friday to get ready for qualifying, it’s only 50 minutes so if you’re way off or you’re not prepared properly, it’s going to show up in qualifying, which we all know can affect you all weekend. You have to show up good off the trailer and be fast and hopefully have it pretty close to dialed in when that first practice starts.”

If you go to another team, do you want to take the number 78 with you?

“I hadn’t really thought about it, I don’t know. I feel like the 78 is Barney’s number, you know what I mean. I don’t know that I would be comfortable with that. So when I went to MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing), I wanted 56 because that was my number growing up. Something like that I would probably be interested in, but 78 I feel like is Barney’s number, he’s had that since he started the team and that’s how that team is recognized. You get connected to it because obviously I’ve had the most success in my career with that number in the Cup Series, but I still don’t feel like it’s mine.”

How do you approach this new first round of races in the Playoffs?
“It’s definitely different. I don’t know, for us to try to keep the most things the same as possible and focus on one race at a time, starting off here in Vegas, coming out here when it’s this hot is going to be totally different than anything we’ve ever done here. 80 degrees is hot in the spring and this place is really temperature sensitive so I feel like its going to be a totally different track and that being said, you always want to kick off the Playoffs strong and I think the last two years winning the first race was really big for us just from the standpoint of it gives you that shot in the arm and that confidence at the right time and that feeling, ‘We can do this, we can go anywhere and win.’ It’s good to start off good, but then thinking of Richmond and Roval, two places where anything can happen and a lot of people are saying that the Roval is going to be crazy and I absolutely agree with that. Richmond too and the things that can happen there. We could have like four wins in the last five or six Richmond races and we have zero – we’ve led a ton of laps in the spring this year and we were in position to win and finished 14th. Last fall, led the most laps, in position to win, didn’t finish at all so it’s another, I think, bit of a wild card because it’s a short track mentality and you get some late-race restarts with guys in the Playoffs and some guys trying to lock themselves into the next round and not have to worry about the Roval, you think about all that, its going to be crazy for the first round right? Absolutely and then the Roval is what it is, it’s going to be nuts.”

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