Toyota Racing – Martin Truex Jr.
NASCAR Cup Series Quotes
FORT WORTH (October 22, 2020) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to media via videoconference in advance of the race at the Texas Motor Speedway:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Do you consider lack of radio communication something that deserves a black flag?
“I don’t think so, in my opinion. It’s kind of a tough one to judge. The spotter safety part is more for when crashes happen or when safety vehicles are on track, not so much, just racing and driving the car and trying not to cause an issue. I guess it could be, just depending on the situation, but definitely a tough one to call. It is a rule that you have to have a spotter, but we’ve seen in the past where guys have had radio issues and I don’t know that we’ve ever seen anyone black flagged for it. Kind of a ball/strike call, I suppose.”
Are you surprised that Joey Logano is not more of a fan favorite?
“Not really. He’s been in a lot of altercations with a lot of drivers, so I guess that’s part of the reason. Yeah, I don’t know. I think he has his own approach and doesn’t apologize for racing situations, I guess. He does a good job, obviously, and wins a lot of races. I don’t know that he makes decisions in a race car based on how many fans he has, if he gets booed or not.”
How do you look at this weekend?
“I feel good about it. We were really strong in the spring Texas race. Feeling like the last two seasons or whatever we’ve been off at Texas and have had some struggles. We went there this Spring and felt really good about things. I thought we had a shot at it, and we ended up getting crashed on a restart. Optimistic about it. I think James (Small, crew chief) feels good about it. Really the next two weeks, I feel good about. We are not in a great position points wise. We need to make something happen, but I’m definitely feeling like we have that opportunity to do it and the potential to do it.”
So, you don’t focus on the points deficit?
“You can’t really. It is what it is, right now. Obviously, we came into the Playoffs without a lot of bonus points that typically we are used to having, and that’s made it a little bit of a challenge, but again, definitely didn’t run as good as we hoped to in Kansas. We lost a little bit there. We’ve got to make it happen. We’ve got two weeks to do it. Our approach is to just do the best job that we can do and hopefully, we can get it done.”
Is there someone on your team that keeps you aware of the points position?
“Depends on the situation, I think. This year, so far through the Playoffs, I don’t think ever in one race at one point in time have we discussed points or where we were, whether we need to do something different. We’ve been pretty much, up into this round, in pretty decent position, where we really didn’t have to worry too much. Obviously, we were able to just focus on our jobs and what we needed to do there and hope to just have the best day that we could. We’ve not been in a position yet, where it comes to the end of the race and you need one spot or two spots, or if this guy gets by you, you are out. We haven’t been in that situation yet. Obviously, this round it’s going to be a little trickier there. If we don’t win one of the next two races, there will be a lot more talk about that.”
How much did Joey Logano winning really change up this round?
“That’s really what changes up things the most, when you have a guy behind you that wins. That’s just part of the way that it is. That was only the first race there are two to go. There’s still a lot can happen. You just have to go out and do the best you can and hope to put yourself in position to win a race.”
Does your recent success at Martinsville give you even more confidence heading into there?
“In racing, it’s always a little bit of both. You’re always excited to go to a place where you have been successful, especially recently. It definitely doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to go the same this time around, so you have to do your normal preparation and make all of the right decisions. Martinsville can be a wild crazy race depending on how the cautions fall, especially at the end of the race. You just take it one at a time. You take it one stage at a time and try to put yourself in the best position possible throughout that race, no matter where it is at.”
How proud were you of the charity endeavor and what’s next for the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation?
“Yeah that was a really big deal for us because with COVID this year and not to be able to do our biggest fundraiser of the year, trying to find ways to keep the foundation moving forward has been a challenge. I think the girls that work for us there, Lisa and Jill and Sherry, have all done a great job coming up with new ideas. Typically, that time of the year, we would do the steering wheel program and we even had trouble trying to get those because they come out of Italy. Coming up with that idea was great, it was really nice to see the support we got throughout the industry from the teams to the drivers, just everyone involved, allowing that to happen. That was a huge deal for us, and very thankful for everyone’s support.”
What is the biggest lesson you are going to take from the 2020 season?
“I don’t know. It’s been a crazy year, I think. For me, I’m obviously just really thankful to be able to do what I do and work with a great team. I think from the standpoint of stepping back and looking at our entire sport, I think looking at the job that everyone did this year to come back – really make us the first sport to come back from the COVID situation and the shutdown to be successful as the sport has been and really not run into any issues along the way. Really just a great job from the leadership point of NASCAR to make good decisions and for everyone to buy in and make sure they did all of the things that they were supposed to do. Just looking at being able to get through the season in the amount of time we did was really impressive. I think you learned, when things like this happen, to be able to change on the fly. You learn to adapt. I think everyone did a great job at that.”
What has been the process getting acclimated to James Small this season?
“I think it’s a little bit of different situation with us, because we’ve worked together the last couple of years, so it was really an easy transition from that standpoint. I think the biggest challenge that we faced was not having practice and obviously there has been some things that James had to deal with along the way being his first year as crew chief. The communication part and the way we work together, understand each other, things like that, have really came easy. It’s not like we were starting with a new person that I’d not worked with before, so that was really helpful.”
With more time away from the racetrack this season, how do you balance time preparing and time away from the racetrack?
“I’d say really the approach is not a lot different. We’ve definitely done a lot more preparation away from the racetrack as far as what I do. More simulator time, more talking to James, more watching SMT stuff that he sends me, just more planning because we don’t have practice. Whether that is talking to him or talking to my engineer about little things about the race, racecar or the track that maybe we’ve been good at before in the past or that we need to work on this time. I guess it’s a lot more talking, things like that, than it used to be. You used to have time to work out those details in practice. It seemed like every time you go to the track no matter how many times you have been there you kind of pick up on something small, a little thing that maybe the crew chief or engineer really didn’t understand and you come up with these little things that will make the car work better and give them a better understanding on what you need to go faster. It’s really difficult without having that. I feel like it’s more of an educated guess. That’s been a big challenge for everyone, especially.”
You are in a great Zoom location. Can you tell me what you are doing? Are you boating or are you fishing?
“Both. We are on a little vacation with a couple of friends, and out cruising on a pontoon and fishing a little bit. Just enjoying the outdoors.”
With you consistently in this round, are you not really stressed or worried about where you are at?
“Yeah, I would say that is a good assumption. I’m going to do the best job that I can do. I know that my team is working hard. As I mentioned earlier, I feel really good about our chances the next couple of weeks. I guess for that reason I’m not really stressed or worried or nervous. I think whatever is going to happen is going to happen. Worrying about today is not going to change Sunday. We are ready to go. I think our team is fired up and excited and hopefully ready to step it up to the next level.”
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