Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Chicagoland Speedway – June 29, 2019
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media in Chicago:
Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
This is the first time you have had multiple teammates in several years. What has the dynamic been like?
“I think it has been fun. Something that drives you, pushes you. Nobody wants to be third or fourth of the group. You want to be the best. You want to win championships. You want to be the fastest every week. But at the same time, it’s difficult because we are working together, and we are sharing everything. There are no secrets. I can’t keep any secrets from him; he can’t keep any secrets from me. It’s a real reality check in your own mind on how things are going, when you are looking at those guys and how they are doing and how you are doing. You are constantly comparing yourself. It has been different for sure from the last couple seasons, but I think in a good way. I think it’s just another little push. It makes you work and try and look at everything just a little bit harder and a little bit closer.”
How has things changed from you being at Joe Gibbs Racing regarding information?
“I think more so for them, especially Kyle (Busch). He was always saying in the media ‘I don’t know how the 78 is doing that.’ There is definitely more insight into that now. For me, I am always kind of trying to look at what everybody is doing, but there is not a really big change there.
Do you consider it a friendly rivalry with your teammate Kyle Busch now that you are in the same shop?
“I think it’s definitely more of a friendly rivalry now that we are in the same shop. I think there was some challenges throughout the years with two different teams at teams. It wasn’t always on track stuff. Definitely now, it’s more so a friendly rivalry. It has been really good. We were joking all weekend last weekend. It was cool to put it in victory lane and get the back-and-forth on pit lane. It was really cool that he stuck his head in there and to see all those guys after the race was really good. I’m sure they weren’t over the moon happy with me winning, but they were very respectful and great teammates about it.”
Next week is the final July race in Daytona. Best and worst memory from there?
“I have a lot of bad memories at Daytona. It hasn’t been very good to me. Second in the Daytona 500, and winning a Busch Series race in ’05 was pretty good memories, and then stuff off the track. I have had a lot of fun times there over the years. It’s definitely a cool place to go to. As far as the package goes, I don’t know. We learned a lot at Talladega what it’s going to be like. I think Daytona is such a different race track than Talladega. The way you draft there; it’s typically two and three wide there. That really changes things. You will just have to wait and see. I expect it’s going to be typical Daytona: hot and slick, the cars were pretty on edge at Talladega. I expect handling to come into play and be a bigger issue than it has been in the past because of the speeds and the amount of downforce we had.
Your teammate, Erik Jones, is kind of in limbo if he is going to resign with Joe Gibbs Racing. You have been in that situation before; have you been able to talk to him and give him any advice?
“I haven’t talked to Erik at all about it. I don’t know if he has talked to any of the other drivers about it. I think it’s one of those things you handle on your own away from the track. We talk mostly about our cars and setups in the meetings. He’s not one to ask a lot of questions or do things outside of the meetings. We have just kept it normal.”
This race had one of the best finishes last year. How do you think the new rules package is going to help that?
“I think it definitely setups for a good finish like that. There is multiple grooves and the package this year has done what they wanted and expected. It has brought us all closer together. It is going to be hot and slick tomorrow. That will help us put on a good race. We will just have to see how it plays out with this package. The Truck race last night showed multiple grooves. We should be similar to that. I am looking forward to hopefully having a good run.”
There are analytics that age 39 is the best year for a driver. What do you think about that? Are you still getting better as a driver?
“That sounds great. I can’t argue with it. I have no idea. I feel good. I feel like there is always room to improve. I think the biggest thing with our sport is not only do you have to try to get better all the time, but so many things change. This year is a perfect example. We came off a great year last year, and most won a championship. Now we have all different cars and all different rules. They run differently and race differently. It’s just a challenge to do this job. It’s definitely fun, but it’s a huge challenge, but I think that is what makes it fun. That is why people love the sport. You are always critiqued; you are only as good as your last race. If you have a couple bad weeks, it doesn’t matter how good you are, people are asking questions. It is a tough sport, but I feel good. I feel like we are doing a good job and hopefully we can keep that up.”
Do you feel like if you beat your three other teammates, that is what you need to do to win races?
“It seems like this year, yeah. To beat a Penske car or to beat a Gibbs car, you have a good shot at winning. It has been interesting to see that dynamic. All of our cars have been strong all year. That is another part that makes it so difficult. You are racing against your teammates, and you all have the same stuff. You share everything. There are no secrets, so it is hard to get an advantage there.”
How are you and Kyle different?
“We are definitely a lot different people. In the garage or in the car, I would say we are very similar. Very intense, very focused, not settling for anything but first. But outside of the car, I would say I am a lot calmer. I can hold my emotions in check a little bit better than maybe Kyle. I think aside from that, we are very similar. I don’t know how he is with his family or away from the track, so I cannot answer that. But I would say we are similar for sure at the race track, besides maybe being able to keep calm when the microphone is in my hands.”