Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
NASCAR Cup Series Quotes
LAS VEGAS (September 24, 2020) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to media via videoconference in advance of the race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
You have a really cool program with your foundation this weekend at Las Vegas. Can you explain what is going on?
“Thanks, really obviously a big weekend for our foundation. This year was tough in many ways. From a fundraising standpoint, we ran into road blocks with everything that we historically have tried to do. Typically for this month, we would be having our steering wheel campaign, which we have had for the past few seasons and this year, we ran into trouble trying to get steering wheels. Just really a great job by everybody at the foundation trying to come up with a new idea and thanks to the NASCAR Foundation for working with us to make it happen, and obviously, all the teams and drivers that have participated. I’m really excited about the names on the cars. I think there are so many cancer heroes out there that are just really excited about this program so far and getting to see the names on the cars going around. It’s been a big deal with fundraising for our foundation so far. Really just hats off to everyone involved. I’m really fired up to see this go down at Las Vegas this weekend.”
Where do you see the state of superspeedway racing right now?
“I think the one thing that always has been a part of it is the unknowns and the opportunities for things to happen that you don’t necessarily want to be a part of. That’s just kind of the nature of the beast. I think the strategy has changed with the manufacturers all working together and pitting together and trying to come up with the best strategy to run their race to try to not only give their selves the best chance to win but also stay out of trouble. It seems like when you have those packs of manufacturers working together, there is less chance for the big crashes to happen. Ultimately, it always comes down to a caution and restart. The field bunched up. Whether it’s the middle of the race going for a stage win or stage points or at the end going for a win, it always seems like that is when the chaos happens. You are never really too far out of the dangerous waters at superspeedways, but in general, I feel like guys have more strategy involved than they used to – where it used to be just go out and race and try to keep yourself in the front. Now there is a lot more to it, but in the end, it’s all the same. Hopefully for us we will go have a good race there.”
This is the sixth time you have made the Round of 12. How is your mindset different this year than previous years?
“I would say a little bit different than past years, especially the past few where we have had lots of bonus points and we really came into, especially this round in really good shape, and now I think we are only plus 11. That changes things, I guess, a little bit, but at the same time, we know what we need to do. I feel like Vegas is a good place for us to go and have a good race and hopefully, potentially go to victory lane. Things have been going really well for us lately, minus Bristol. The team has done a really good job, and we have been leading laps and doing the things that we need to do. If we can just turn that into a win once in the next two rounds. That’s all that we need to do. Win once in the round of 12, once in the round of 8 and we will be where we want to be. I’m excited about the opportunity and feel like it will be a good track for us.”
Can you talk about your personality behind the wheel? Does give and take still exist?
“Yeah, I think there is. It’s something that I’ve always tried to do. At the end of the day, you have to get the best finish that you can get. If that’s racing clean and giving guys a little bit of room and cutting some guys some breaks here and there, that’s worth doing in my opinion.”
Is it important to win Las Vegas to make the Round of 8 or just because this round includes Talladega and the ROVAL?
“I think both. I think all of that stuff comes into your mind when you look at the next three races and at the same time, I feel like we have a good opportunity at all three to do well. Especially, the ROVAL and Vegas, but Talladega is definitely the wild card and you don’t necessarily want to have to worry about getting a good finish there or a finish at all. I think it would make things a lot easier, a lot less stressful if we could go win at Las Vegas. That’s our plan. I’m sure everybody, all the guys left, are in the same boat. We want to win this race, so we don’t have to worry. I think that goes pretty much for all the rounds, no matter where you are going.”
We’ve heard that NASCAR could be headed to the Circuit of the Americas next season. What are your thoughts on that?
“Yeah, I think it’s exciting. Anytime we are talking about going someplace new it’s a great thing. Everybody looks forward to that. I don’t know much about the track. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of races there, but I think it would be great. I love road courses, and that certainly looks like a really nice one. It would be fun to try it. We will see if we get to do it.”
What are your thoughts on your teammate, Denny Hamlin, starting a team with Michael Jordan next year?
“I think it’s interesting. Anytime you have new owners, and especially at that caliber, come into our sport, it brings more excitement and more eyeballs and gets more people interested. I think for all involved it’s a good thing and looking forward to see how they do.”
What is the lasting impact of the 2000 Talladega race, which was Dale Earnhardt’s last win?
“I think the legacy of that race was just from how far back Dale came from in the last two laps to win. Obviously, superspeedway racing has really evolved a lot in those 20 years, but that was just a reminder of what Dale could do on a superspeedway and how guys kind of feared him on those tracks as far as, if he had a run, they weren’t trying to block, they weren’t trying to make any crazy moves. Whoever was behind him wasn’t going to do anything but push him to the front, which was Kenny Wallace. Pretty neat to think back to that, and I think I was watching it live.”
Have you noticed any changes in the mile-and-a-half races and why is there so much parity right now?
“I think it’s mostly the cars and the situation where it seems like we always have a late restart. You look at the way these cars drive and on restarts, you just don’t have a lot of horsepower, so you can’t get away from each other. You are kind of at the mercy of the drag and the horsepower and we all end up in a big wad for two to three laps. That’s where I think we’ve seen the different winners come from and it seems pretty consistent that we have this many cautions.’
How much change have you noticed in your crew chief James Small throughout the season?
“I think just more confidence as we’ve gone through things and tried things that didn’t work and just circled back to what we were used to doing. Definitely confidence is up, not only from the stand point of me having confidence in what he’s bringing to the race track, but I think him and his decisions. When he’s on the box – split-second decisions – I think he’s obviously gotten more comfortable, and that is something that you can only get with time. I feel like things have been going really well for us, aside from Bristol, and obviously looking forward to hopefully having a good showing at Vegas.”
Do you think this new team has a chance to success as a single-car team and do you ever plan on being a team owner?
“I think it will be interesting. I think there’s obviously a lot that goes on behind the scenes as far as owning a team and all that it takes. Obviously, we had a lot of success at Furniture Row as a single-car team, but you look at how long they had been around, how long it took for them to get there and it was a process. Obviously, having the financial backing, having the sponsorship, having the resources to draw from, whether that’s the manufacturer or an alliance team, whatever it is. You still have a lot of parts and pieces, a lot of moving things, a lot of people. At the end of the day, I think it’s really all about those people, what can they do, how can they take these resources and these opportunities and make the best of them, because no matter what they are still up against four-car teams and big organizations and all of those things. It’s a heck of a challenge. I’m sure Barney Visser could probably explain it a little bit better than I can, because he kind of went through a lot there. I think they are in a great position to be able to make this happen and be successful. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out. At the end of the day, I think it’s a great thing for the sport to have another team come in and one of that caliber with Michael Jordan being an owner. I think it’s huge, and it’s exciting. I haven’t really thought much about ownership and I don’t know if that’s a road that I would go down, but you never know what the future holds.”
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