CHARLOTTE, NC – Martin Truex Jr. is still enjoying the limelight as the 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup champion. The reigning champ sat down with the media at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour held at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Truex has had a busy off-season and many were concerned about his girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, who is usually by his side. Pollex has been battling cancer, as is well documented.
“I sent her to Florida for about four weeks, and I went on tour,” Truex said. “That’s basically how that all worked. She’s doing really good with it. All is going well on her end, as well. She’s going to go to the Super Bowl with me next weekend or in two weeks. We’re going to the Bahamas next week, so my off‑season is next week.”
The role of the champion always brings with it some responsibility. Truex said he understands that, but there are times he suspects he will speak out.
“I don’t think more responsibility, but I think if you do have a ‑‑ if you do feel a certain way about something, you have a little bit more leverage to maybe make some changes or get things done or make something happen or maybe even make people ‑‑ other guys agree with you and help make a difference maybe, but I don’t know,” Truex said. “For the most part, I honestly don’t feel a whole lot different. I haven’t done anything different. I haven’t changed at all. I still like the same things and dislike the same things and do the same things. I haven’t bought anything extravagant. I don’t know, still friends with all the same people.
“But I have got to do a lot of fun different stuff and some doors have opened that probably wouldn’t have before. I’m sure going down the road that some things are going to change, but I don’t know what those are going to be yet, but it’s been a lot of fun, like I said, and yeah, hasn’t really changed me, but it’s maybe changed my life in some respects.”
Truex was reminded that unless you’re Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, or Jimmie Johnson, few drivers repeat championships back to back.
“It’s hard. You know, I think more so now than even before his time, it’s hard because this format, Truex said. “You know, I mean, years ago we had normal point race all year long. I would have to say that is way, way easier to repeat than what we have now currently, without any shadow of a doubt. It’s just going to get harder, and that stat is going to probably live on for ‑‑ it has potential to live on for a long, long time, and it’s going to get harder to repeat.”
In an earlier interview, Kevin Harvick lobbied for a change in the schedule for NASCAR. Truex was extremely successful at the 1.5-mile tracks. Change doesn’t seem to bother him.
“Sure. I’ll go anywhere and race. I don’t care. No, honestly, I actually feel like the schedule doesn’t really ‑‑ the past couple years, the playoff schedule probably hasn’t been some of our strongest tracks. You’ve got Martinsville in there, Talladega, and Homestead really the last couple years for our team specifically has been tough. Obviously, this year we won it, but we kind of defied the odds a little. Phoenix is not a good track for us. So, I mean, there’s a handful of them in there now that we’d rather go somewhere else. I’m perfectly fine. I think Harvick has got a really good point about changing it up, keeping it new, keeping it interesting. I don’t know what all that entails, and I’m sure the tracks aren’t happy to hear about it, but I guess if you spread the love around and you mix it up, then everybody should be happy, right, not just the 10 tracks that have the race now. I think he makes a valid point, and I’d be all for it.”
One change that has the Champ stressing is the new road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Roval, as it is called combines a snaky run through the infield and goes back on the oval for a while. Truex says it will be difficult.
“Yes. I’m telling you, it’s going to be very difficult,” Truex said. “The hardest part is there’s so many changes in banking and cambers, and the makeshift chicane on the backstretch goes from the racetrack to the flat, back to the racetrack. It’s like ‑‑ and there’s so much of this going on and like ‑‑ you’re just all over the place, and then, of course, you’ve got to have the car set up to go 175‑ish around Turns 3 and 4, 20 whatever ‑‑ I don’t know what Charlotte is, 28 degrees, 24 degrees of banking, to keep the things off the race track, and then you go in the infield and the car is six inches off the ground all the way through the infield. I’m telling you it’s so much bigger of a challenge than people realize, and I don’t know why, but when we tire tested there last year, it would just eat the tires off the car. You know, 10 laps, you couldn’t touch the throttle anymore. 10 laps. I’m like, I can’t ‑‑ on the infield, I can’t touch the throttle at all. It’s going to be a huge challenge. So, I don’t know.
“I mean, I think there’s still a lot of unknowns about the track, about how we’re going to do it, the turf around the chicane coming off of Turn 4 in the infield there, dropping your tires in that stuff is like hitting ice. There’s a lot going on there that we don’t know about. The curbs aren’t put in yet. There’s a lot of unknowns. But it’s going to be very, very, very challenging. I can’t stress that enough.”