Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to media before practice for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday:
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Do you feel like you have lost everything you had before the Playoffs?
“I don’t know. It is hard to say. It’s been really tough, and nothing has really gone right. I thought we were sitting in a really good position last week. Things were going pretty well, and then we pit and the bottom falls out. Lose two laps, we get them back, get back on the lead lap and then the things blows up. It’s been an uphill battle. We really haven’t had much to be excited about other than the guys preparing fast cars to bring to the track the last few weeks. We will reset. We are ready to go again. This is a new week and a new opportunity, and we’ve been in this position before. Let’s just go see what we can do tomorrow.”
Did you follow the pit crew decision at all and what did you think of it?
“I wasn’t really that involved other than knowing our pit stops have been pretty bad here lately. I feel good about it. They said practice went good this week, and every is pretty fired up about that and they are feeling good, so we will see tomorrow how it plays out.”
How do you have to reset each week?
“That’s my job – that’s what I’m supposed to do and be fully engaged and do the best job that I can do. I’m ready to go. I’ve been talking to James (Small) the last couple of days. We have a good game plan, and I feel really good about things. You just have to forget about it – as hard as that sounds. That’s what you do, that’s at least what I do. That week is over, and we have a new opportunity. 500 laps is a long race, and a lot can happen. You have to stay focused, be ready to have a shot at this thing in the end.”
It’s easy from this side to say why would I go through this week after week. I would be like I’m going to go out on my boat with everybody and have a good time.
“It’s funny. It feels like that when it first happens, then a few minutes later you come to your senses – and you are like okay. It’s all going to be okay. Again, we could do something huge tomorrow and next week and we are going to all forget about the next eight races. That is what we are going to try to do. We still have a big opportunity ahead, and hopefully try to seize the moment.”
What are the some of the things NASCAR could do with the short track package?
“The tires are always a big thing on short tracks. This weekend, the tire is different than what we had, so we will see if that is something that takes it in the right direction. It’s a combination – downforce, aerodynamics, horsepower, tires – those are kind of the big ones. I think they are willing to keep trying stuff, they just haven’t hit on anything different.”
How important is qualifying here for tomorrow?
“It’s very important. All of the short tracks, qualifying has been huge from starting up front and having a good pit stall. You need both of those here to be successful. Track position is going to be everything.”
From an organization standpoint, how do you handle it knowing both of you can’t make it in?
“Nothing really changes. We race just like we do every other week. We will go with what got us here. Being in the Playoffs as teammates for so many years, we have that experience, and we know what got us here and things that make us strong as a group. Then you go on Sunday and race. You don’t hide things, you don’t try to do anything different. At least that has been my experience in the past on how we’ve handled it, and so far, nothing that I’ve seen has been different.”
If Ross Chastain’s move hadn’t been banned, do you have to think about doing it this weekend?
“I would try it yeah, who wouldn’t for 10 spots or whatever it was – five spots?
Do you have to think about what you might have to do differently than how you normally race?
“I don’t like these questions because it’s so hypothetical. I don’t know – I honestly haven’t thought about it yet. I think it will just be like races here in the past. My goal and my plan are to try to win this race. I don’t know that I’ll do it completely different than the way I’ve always raced, so to answer your question, I don’t know exactly what it might look like, I guess we will just wait and see.”
Are you content to continue to go year-to-year contract wise?
“I think that’s the way it’s going to go. One at a time.”
How much do you want to know how the other drivers are doing?
“Not really a whole lot. Honestly, no matter what the situation is – I feel like if you have to get one point or you’re one point in – then maybe there is something you can do. But knowing who is running good and who is not, it really doesn’t matter. You are always going to be digging to get all that you can. I think just if it is really close, you need to know just in case you can do something crazy – Ross Chastain kind of move – if you are close. I don’t know if it’s really going to come into play with 17 points.”
Golin for Toyota Racing