Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media at Kansas Speedway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota Camry Furniture Row Racing
How does it feel to make your 400th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start this weekend?
“Well, I didn’t even know about it until (David) Ferroni (public relations) told me what – two, three days ago? – and asked me what I thought about it, so it was kind of a wow moment for me. It’s obviously a big deal, but it’s hard to believe it’s went – that many races have went by so fast. It felt like just yesterday I started my Cup career, so it’s very cool. I’m very proud to be around for this long and even more proud that some of our best days have been here of lately and hopefully we can keep that going for a long time.”
What is your attitude coming to Kansas Speedway knowing how close you’ve been to winning here?
“Yeah, I definitely get a positive vibe coming here – a positive feeling that we’ve been so close, we’ve done just about everything here but win and I feel like it’s time for us to make that happen. And I don’t think there’s ever been a time where I’ve come here more confident and so, yeah, I mean I’m looking forward to seeing how the weekend goes and seeing if we can finally close the deal here. I feel like we can do it and just ready to go out there and give it a shot.”
Why did your team opt not to test at Homestead-Miami Speedway?
“Yeah, I mean it’s – there’s a lot that’s went into it. We actually skipped the Chicago test as well and went there and we won, so I mean that certainly plays into the decision a bit. I think for us it’s just been being in Denver, Homestead (Florida) is a long way from Denver. Just trying to make sure we’re focused on the right things. We feel like testing honestly is not really done anything to help us along. We feel like our time is better spent at the shop getting prepared. Just seems like every time we’ve tested this year, we’ve gone to the race track and spent the first day-and-a-half trying to regroup and figure out where we need to be, so it seems like it’s probably hurt us more than helped us and it’s just kind of our mindset going forward that we feel like we’ll be better off if we don’t go.”
Will you use information from teammates in lieu of testing at Homestead?
“Well, I think you – we’ll get certain information from TRD (Toyota Racing Development), tire data and things like that and then it’s just about filtering through it and making sure it – you run the sim properly and have the right kind of mindset or outlook going into the race track of what to expect and what you think you’re going to need to do, so I think we’ll be just fine and obviously it’s worked for us in the past here lately and especially – and again just the team feels like that’s the best way to go for us and they’ve done a good job of making good decisions this year. I’m not going to question it.”
What did your Chicagoland Speedway victory do for your team going forward?
“The first win was huge. I mean it just – just that relief, you know? That feeling of a relief, ‘Okay, now in the next two weeks, we just go out and try to win,’ you know? The icing on the cake so to speak, so it was a huge confidence booster for us. I mean, we had just – the past few weeks leading up to the Chase, we felt really good about our program, we felt really good about where we were, I felt like we were doing everything right and to go in there at Chicago and prove it – you know, not only to everybody else, but to ourselves that yeah, we are here, we’re serious, we can get after this championship – it was a big step for us. The first round went awesome. Last week obviously didn’t go as well as we would have liked. You had a little issue there – part failure at the end of the race – but aside from that, I think that the team has done a great job. We’ve had a lot of confidence, momentum and really just been solid and consistent and not made mistakes and that’s what it’s going to take, so we’ve got some work to do this weekend to get back to where we want to be, but feel great about coming here to Kansas and what we’ve been able to do here in the past. Hopefully with the position we’re in now, we can take advantage of all the things that we’ve been doing well and finally close the deal here at Kansas.”
Were you surprised you started the Chase so strong?
“It didn’t surprise me that we won I don’t think. I mean, you know we had – like I said, we had a lot of confidence going in there. Just Richmond, Darlington and those races just really gave us a good pep in our step and a good feeling leading into the Chase and a good attitude and we just kind of went out there and did our thing and turned it into two victories, so felt like we almost could have won all three races of the first round and that was just – that’s a huge accomplishment for us after last year going throughout the Chase and not having any wins and making it to the final four. It gave us a lot of confidence that if we continue to be smart and do the things that we know how to do, we can get far in this thing, but at the same time that’s – you go to the next round, everything is back to zero and you have a bad race and all the sudden your attitude changes to ‘Holy crap, this – what just happened? Just a week ago we were the point leaders,’ so anything can happen. You’ve got to stay focused. I think we’ve got the right attitude and we certainly have got the speed to get it done. We just need to make sure we make it happen.”
Did you make the decision to not test at Homestead collectively as a team?
“We were kind of on the fence with it for a while trying to just – it was just kind of sitting there all the time and we’d talk about it a little bit and then we’d move on and we’d wait and talk about it a couple weeks down the road. It just seemed like every time we talked about it, it was just like, ‘I don’t know that – I don’t really think that we should do it. I think we should continue to focus on the things that we’ve been doing,’ and ultimately I think Cole (Pearn, crew chief) made the decision to say, ‘Alright, that’s it. We’re not going to do it,’ and he feels good about that, so I’m with him. I think he’s making the right decision. We went to Homestead and tested the last two years and went back for the race and we were awful. You just – it gives you a false sense of security when you go to a test like that a month ahead of the race – weather is completely different – and you feel like you’re good, you go back to the race track and it’s completely different and then you’re like – you don’t know what to do. You don’t know what direction to head. You feel like you kind of get set in your ways a bit when you go to a test and it goes well, so it’s good for us just to go in there and wing it and to do it the way we’ve done it all year without testing and we have tested a lot, but some of our worst races this year have been after tests believe it or not, so it’s an interesting thing, but I think we’re making the right decision, but we won’t know that until Homestead.”
What did you learn in last year’s season finale that you can apply to this year’s final round?
“I think we learned most importantly that we were capable of it and that it’s really important to be consistent. Again, winning is great – we all want to get locked into the next round because it makes you feel good and you don’t have to worry about having that bad race or something bad taking you out of the Chase like we’ve seen happen to people last year or even last week for that matter, so it takes a lot anxiety out of you weeks leading up to the races – but at the end of the day if you can just be consistent, be smart, you can points your way into getting to Homestead and that’s what we were able to do last year. At the same time, you have to be able to have the speed. You have to be able to win because if you go to Homestead and you don’t have the capability to win, you’re not going to win the championship, so we learned a little bit about both sides of that I think last year that so far I feel like has helped us, but overall I think just confidence in the team, in each other, not letting that pressure get to everybody. I think everybody is just doing a really good job of keeping the right mindset and not letting the pressure get to them and that’s probably the biggest thing I learned last year just because it’s – when you get to those cutoff races or you’re at Talladega in a cutoff round and you’re right there around the – hovering around the bubble – it’s a very stressful weekend, so I think that our guys got a good taste of that last year and did a good job with dealing with it.”
Is this race important to your team with its proximity to Denver and amplified by your frustrations here in recent years?
“Frustration’s not really changed over the years. It’s always been a difficult place for us to – like we said, we’ve been so close, but for Barney (Visser, team owner), for our team, this is the closest race track to Denver, Colorado, so it’s kind of – this is kind of their home track and we get a lot of fans from Colorado that say, ‘Hey, we came out from Denver to support the team,’ which is awesome. We get a lot of that here and it’s the shortest trip for Barney to come on Sunday and usually brings the bigger part of his family here than he does at most places, so, yeah, it’s great for those guys that don’t get to come to the race track all the time, but it’s cool for a lot of our fans from out in Colorado and west of the Mississippi (River) just to get a race to support their team.”
Do you look back at any crossroads in your career and think about how you’ve got here today?
“There’s a few big ones. Obviously 2013 after Richmond that was probably the big one which ultimately led to today. There was a point in time there Monday or Tuesday after Richmond I was like worried if I’d ever get to race again. You never know in this sport, it was so late in the season, you don’t know what rides are open – all that stuff – and to be sitting here just a few years later going for a championship is pretty amazing, so as bad as that week was it led into some really good opportunities and you never – when bad things happen, you never really know what the future holds for you and I just feel fortunate to be here and have another shot at it and hopefully we’ll take advantage of it.”
Is there any urgency to win at Kansas to automatically advance past Talladega Superspeedway?
“Well, we really would like to come out of here with a win. I mean, I think everybody would. It sure would make next week a lot more fun. I think the only one that’s not worried about Talladega right now is Jimmie Johnson and his team obviously, so – it’s not a must win obviously. We’re in decent shape, but Talladega you just never know. You could very easily finish 40th there – anybody could. We’ll just have to see. We’ll do all we can do that’s – we’re going to do the best job we can this weekend and hope to have a shot at winning and hopefully we can get it done, but if we don’t we’ll go to Talladega and race hard and hope for the best, but there’s no guarantees. It’s up in there for everybody and that’s part of racing. That’s part of this Chase.”