The driver of the No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, Martin Truex Jr., took time to visit his home state of New Jersey before heading to what he considers his home track at Dover, Delaware.
And, in light of all the crazy weather events recently, he also had the Jersey shore on his mind as the area continues to recover from Superstorm Sandy. Most of all, Truex is trying to do his own part to help the Jersey strong effort, especially through the foundation that bears his name.
“I haven’t been to the shore since Christmas, but I was there after Sandy,” Truex said. “Yes, I did get to see a lot of the homes on the shoreline in my local area over there on the island and of course on the bay that had gotten beat up pretty good.”
“I saw some homes that were just gone,” Truex continued. “There were boats on the marsh up against the wood line, things like that.”
“We got to help a lot of people through our Foundation,” Truex said. “We donated a lot of money to the area to a lot of people.”
What meant the most to Truex, in addition to having his family involved in the Foundation support effort, was that he personally helped to distribute the funding to those in need.
“It was neat because we did it with our own board, our own committee of people up in the area that were hit and it was spearheaded by my sister,” Truex said. “We got to help a lot of people with a lot of things without going through anyone else.”
“We were able to give them every dime we raised, which I think was upwards of $150,000,” Truex continued. “We paid people’s mortgages, rebuilt people’s houses and did all kinds of really neat things.”
“So, that was cool.”
While Truex admitted that there was still room for recovery, he also is feeling good that the shore area is strong and getting stronger. And he cannot wait to visit, which he hopes to do sometime over the summer if his schedule permits.
“The area is getting back to somewhat being normal,” Truex said. “Hopefully this summer I’ll be able to get up there and see how it is coming along.”
Prior to arriving at Dover International Speedway, Truex did get the opportunity to do some racing in his home state. And he really enjoyed being at home and on the track.
“We went to New Jersey Motorsports Park, the second time I’ve been there,” Truex said. “It’s a beautiful facility with very good people running it.”
“Just got to run some go karts with some guys from NAPA and had a good time with that,” Truex continued. “I don’t get to get up there as much as I’d like to.”
Truex also took the opportunity to reminisce about his growing up days in New Jersey. And, of course, he credited his racing family, particularly his father, for being where he is currently in the sport.
“He’s the only reason I ever got into racing,” Truex said of his father. “There are tons and tons of stories about him.”
“Watching him race the modified at Wall Stadium (Wall Township, New Jersey) was my first memories of racing in general,” Truex continued. “Of course going on the road and traveling with him to some Busch North races, going to some tracks here and New Hampshire, was also cool.”
“The most special memory of all was probably watching him win at New Hampshire, that was one of the coolest moments for me as a kid,” Truex said. “It was great watching my dad win on the big stage.”
“As I grew up, that’s all I ever wanted to do was race because my dad did it.”
While Truex Jr. is no doubt a Jersey boy, he also considers the Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware as his ‘home track.’
“Everybody knows I consider this kind of my home track,” Truex said. “I’m excited to be here this weekend.”
“Our team has been doing a good job lately and this is a good track for us,” Truex continued. “Hopefully, this will be the track where we break through and get back to Victory Lane.”
Truex Jr. might just have his chance to get back into winning mode since he is starting from the outside pole at the Monster Mile. He scored that honor with a time of 22.814 seconds and a speed of 157.798 miles per hour.
“I’m happy with the run obviously,” Truex said post-qualifying. “Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and the guys did a really good job with the NAPA Toyota and made some really good adjustments.”
“We knew the track was slick from watching Nationwide practice,” Truex continued. “I probably left maybe a little bit out there.”
“This is a place where if you get too much, you can be 30th,” Truex said. “So, I was a tiny bit conservative in one spot where I had trouble in practice.”
“Starting up front is very important.”
While Truex Jr. has a great starting place, he also acknowledged that he will have his work cut out for him at a track where the monster is the prize.
“I think the hardest thing about this place is getting your car to do what you want,” Truex said. “The second hardest thing is when it’s not doing what you want, trying to drive the thing for 400 laps.”
“It’s miserable to have a car that is not doing what you want here,” Truex continued. “Our rear tires are bouncing and we hear guys talking about tires feel like basketballs here all the time.”
“If you’re a little bit off as the day goes on, it just gets worse and worse and you get madder and madder,” Truex said. “It’s a tough race track, but when your car is right, there’s no more fun race than here in Dover.”
“It’s always nice to come home.”