Toyota NCS Iowa Quotes – Joe Gibbs Racing Press Conference 

NKP #19: Martin Truex Jr, Joe Gibbs Racing, Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota Camry Retirement announcement

 Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. and team owner and founder, Joe Gibbs, were made available to the media on Friday prior to this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway. 

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

Martin, would you like to provide an opening statement?

Martin Truex: Jr.: “This is about the most nervous I’ve ever been coming in here. Obviously, I guess the news has been on the internet all week, so I think you guys already know, so not really sure why I’m here. But yeah, just here to let that I won’t be back full-time next year, but excited about the rest of the year, obviously. It means the world to me to see Johnny Morris (founder and CEO, Bass Pro Shops) here. He’s been a huge supporter of mine and I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the things I’ve been able to without him being behind me for 21 years. It’s been incredible, it’s been a hell of a ride. I’m excited about the future, and not really sure what that looks like yet, but feel good about my decision. I just want to thank Coach (Joe Gibbs), everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), Toyota. They’ve been absolutely amazing to (pause) —  to be able to win a championship is something I’ve always dreamed of and to be able to get that done was amazing. Just feel really lucky to be surrounded by so many great people over the years. To all the guys I’ve worked with – crew members, crew chiefs, team owners, you name it across the board, it’s been a true honor. I’ll miss all those people for sure, but I won’t be gone, I’ll be around still. We’re going to do some stuff together, have some fun and enjoy life a little bit and wind down.”

JOE GIBBS, Owner and founder, Joe Gibbs Racing

Coach Gibbs, any opening thoughts for you?

Joe Gibbs: “Obviously, everybody has such respect for Martin and I did everything I could to keep it going! I think we’ve got two 43-year-olds that are at the top of their game right now. But just when you think about this guy (Martin Truex Jr.), he’s won 34 races, 32 of them in a Toyota, which is great. He even won a Truck race in a Toyota, so that was awesome. He’s got the 32 wins and of course, two Xfinity Series championships, won those back-to-back. The 2017 Cup championship. Through all of those, it’s been absolutely great working with him. I think everyone knows Martin has a reputation of a real gentleman, great competitor, and obviously something that’s going to be a big deal for us and a big loss. So, we talked about Johnny (Morris). I can tell you that Johnny cares about a lot of things – family first, but then he cares about America and our country and that’s reflected on our race cars from time to time. You can see that from time-to-time on our race cars. He cares about America. I think the other thing Johnny cares about is veterans and all of those who have sacrificed for our country. And I love the fact that we get to fly those colors at times to honor the veterans so we know that’s a huge deal for him and that’s a huge deal for us, too. And then the outdoors. Normally, when I try to find Martin, he’s someplace with Johnny and so, I’ve kind of gotten used to that. They love the outdoors and that’s a big deal for us. To tell you a little story on that, two years ago, if you remember we’re at Martinsville and the No. 19 car is fighting to get in the Playoffs. And we did it, somehow we did it. So, we’re in the Playoffs, we get there, I get a phone call from Johnny and so, I said ‘Johnny, we made it.’ and he said, ‘Yeah, I know.’ And he’s talking to me, whispering the whole time. So, I went ‘Johnny, why are you whispering?’ He said, ‘I’m at a deer stand.’ And then of course, he tortures me and sends me photos of streams and lakes and everything. I’m working on the weekends and Johnny is someplace outdoors enjoying everything. Just had a great time with Johnny. And obviously, Auto Owners (Insurance) has been a big part. I think he (Martin) was there earlier today, with a lot of their agents across the country. When you see that big A coming at you, you know it’s Auto Owners. And that’s been a big deal, and sponsoring Martin and us and of course, that’s been terrific for us. And of course, we also have Reser’s. Mark is a racer himself. Selling all those products in delis and groceries all across the country. Appreciate them and all they’ve done for our team. We always mention Interstate (Batteries). They’re our founding sponsor and that’s a huge deal for us. And of course, Toyota. I don’t think any of us would be here if it weren’t for Toyota. Now there’s some good news in all of this. The great thing is, Martin is going to continue with us. He’ll be an ambassador for us, work on different projects, and different things. We haven’t talked about all of that yet, but I think it’ll be a lot and if you noticed when he originally tee’d everything up, he said ‘I won’t be racing full-time.’ So, might be able to talk him into a few things there, too. His teammates are all here. The drivers, they’re in the background here. We got Denny (Hamlin), Christopher (Bell) and Ty (Gibbs). So, they’re here to celebrate this time and of course James (Small, crew chief, No. 19 Toyota Camry XSE) and the whole No. 19 team, they’re working hard. They’re probably some place. But, that’s a huge deal for him (Truex Jr.) too. So, for all of us, I think that what we’re really excited about is Martin continuing with us in the future. So, I’m sure I’m probably going to have to find him some place in a boat or with Johnny in a tree blind someplace. But we’re going to run him down. We’re excited about the future. I’ve talked a little too much, but it’s all important to us and all those people that I just mentioned, it’s a big deal for all of us. So, we’re going to continue our relationship going forward and we’re excited about that.”

Johnny Morris: “Just want to interrupt here and come here to talk to everyone, for our family JP, Kelly and the whole Bass Pro Shops family. Twenty-one years, and I just remember Martin — that’s the first opportunity to really be able to be on the hood of a car, especially for a season and Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. picked Martin. It was Dale and Kelly and they picked this guy, Martin Truex. I met him in a tent at Atlanta. You can have dreams in life, we all have dreams. Sometimes, they come true, a lot of times, they don’t. This is a dream come true for everyone at our company, Martin. Whether you dream about a big fish or be a champion in racing. One thing I’ll tell everyone, when you align with somebody, it was like with our whole family. All these 21 years, there’s not one time that you did something to not make us fully proud of you, buddy. Every way. And with our customers, you love the outdoors, going to conservation events all the time and just the excitement at every race, having a chance to win and be up front. Coach (Joe Gibbs), I know you’ve done everything to keep this guy and Martin, no regrets buddy. Just be happy and know you’ve made all of us so happy and so proud and I wanted to come here, not just for me, but for everybody in the Bass Pro Shops family, our dealers, everybody. Just to say thank you very much and congratulations on a heck of a run.”

Gibbs: “I did have a conversation with Martin and realized that every guy in America at your age wants to do what you’re doing. Racing cars, making a ton of money. I know that for a fact (laughs). And have all the fun.”

Martin, why now?

Martin Truex: “Just felt like the right time for me. Honestly, I’ve thought about it a lot the past few seasons and just waited for that feeling in my mind to be positive, like this is okay, I’m good, I want to do something else. Yeah, something just felt different this year for me. I felt like it was time to slow down and do something else. It’s been a great ride.”

Was this performance-related?

Martin Truex: “Not really, it really doesn’t. We’ve had some disappointments this year, for sure. But it’s not enough to make you stop doing what you want to do. Totally not related to performance in any way, shape or form.”

Do you feel your legacy on the sport will be what you wanted it to?

Martin Truex: “Yeah, 100 percent. I would say, I achieved more than I ever thought I would. That being said, there’s still a lot of heartbreakers, a lot of things you could go back and think about ‘Man, I wish that turned out different.’ You know, a championship, three runners-up in this format. That’s, I feel like, really good. I’m proud of what I’ve done. I feel like I’ve given it everything I’ve had, and I feel like I was really, really good and what I did. Yeah, I’m happy with that. I’m content. I’m good, I’m happy. I feel good about this.”

Did you make this decision recently or have you been sitting on this decision for a while?

Martin Truex: “I’ve known for a few weeks – we’ve known for a few weeks. I was leaning that way most of the season – I was leaning that direction, but I wasn’t totally sure. So, just took a while to think about it all. It’s a big decision. It affects not just me, it affects a lot of people and again that’s the toughest part. You don’t want to let people down. I’ve been – 21 years that I’ve done this I’ve never missed a race, I never missed a practice, I’ve never been late for anything, I’ve never missed an appearance. I mean, you live your life by a schedule that somebody makes for you and it’s just time for me to make my own schedule. It’s really as simple as – that’s really what boils down to me is I want to go and do the things I want to do and I don’t want anyone to tell me when I can and when I can’t do those things. I still love racing. I’m still going to race some. I don’t know what, when, how, why, I don’t know any of that yet. I’m going to figure it out. I feel very fortunate to be in this position to be able to make this decision on my own terms. It’s something that was always something I wanted to be able to do because there was times in my career where I didn’t know if I was going to have a job next year or in six months or whatever. It’s just a good feeling to be able to make your own way, do the things you want to do and that’s kind of what led me to this.”

What was it like to official tell Joe Gibbs and the organization?

Martin Truex: “Yeah, Coach (Gibbs) and I have talked about it a lot recently and so it wasn’t that hard. He’s been amazing through all of this. It’s just being on my side and wanting me to do what I want to do. It is tough. It’s tough to feel like you’re letting people down, but at the same time I feel like I’ve got a great relationship with everyone on our team – all of our guys on the 19 especially. But Coach has been awesome helping me work through it. He would always make me a list of pros and cons and his list of pros was always longer than mine.

Joe Gibbs: “I think the last time I had nine pluses and two minuses.”

Martin Truex: “Yeah, but no, honestly, it wasn’t that hard because I’m very comfortable with him and the guys.”

Are you not having as much fun as you once did?

“Sometimes. Yeah, sometimes. It’s hard to explain. I have my reasons. I have, like I said, I feel really good about this and this is what I want to do.”

Coach, what are you looking for in a driver to replace Martin Truex Jr. next season:

Joe Gibbs: “Yeah, we’re still working on all of that and so we just want to focus right now on Martin (Truex Jr.) and all of that stuff will take place later on. We’re thrilled to be here supporting – all of our guys are here. Martin means a lot to us. He used to sit in those competition meetings and he would sit in there and a couple of our drivers would be – and I’d look over at Martin and he’d go (makes weird face and laughter). Martin didn’t say a lot, but when he said it, it meant a lot to us.”

You grew up as a second-generation racer and when you followed your father’s footsteps could you have thought back then that you would be a Cup champion and have so many accomplishments?

“Yeah, no for sure. I never thought of that. When I was running up in the north series in my dad’s cars I was — honestly moving to North Carolina and racing cars for a living was never on my radar. It just wasn’t. It was on my dad’s radar I guess because he was talking to people and whatnot. I was just working on cars and building race cars and trying to go fast and win races and it all kind of played out. Thinking back to all those memories, it’s amazing to – talking to Johnny (Morris), talking about the memories we’ve shared together and the great wins we’ve had over the years. I never dreamed of any of this. Just very, very lucky.”

Why were you so nervous coming in here today?

“I don’t know. I’m never usually nervous when I come in here and it’s just kind of a big deal so that’s why. I didn’t really know what I was going to say or what I was going to get asked. I’m sure a lot of people are going to have their opinions and that’s part of it. I don’t know. It’s a big deal I guess.”

Do you anticipate feeling any different the second half of the season?

“I mean, I’m not going to approach it any differently. I don’t expect my team to either. I don’t think they will. I think it’s business as usual as far as when we’re at the track. But, I don’t know. I guess it will feel different knowing that I’ll be going to tracks for the last time or whatever in a Cup car now. I’m not sure what it’s going to be like, but I’m going to try to enjoy it.”

What are the other things that you want to do in the future?

Martin Truex: “Yeah, it’s as simple as just not having a crazy schedule where 40 weekends I’m at a race so that’s part of it. I don’t know. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to be doing yet aside from the fun stuff I like to do away from the race track. Hunting, fishing, hanging out with friends. Everyone in my family that’s ever gotten married, I missed their wedding. You know what I mean? You don’t have a life. You’re married to racing. That’s all you do Monday to Sunday. That’s all you do. It’s just going to be interesting to just lead kind of a normal life for while and see what that’s like. It’s been – I’ve never done that.”

Are you worried you will miss the competitive juices?

Martin Truex: “He’s (Joe Gibbs) got Xfinity cars (laughter). Coach, I’m bored I want to race. Let’s go!”

Joe Gibbs: “We’re working on that!”

Joe, did you feel like this was the right year for Martin Truex Jr. to make this decision?

Joe Gibbs: “It was always up to Martin (Truex Jr.). We talked over the years as Martin I think thought about things and I think it was just different this year. I could kind of tell when I called him to get the final result, he was totally relaxed and so I could read that in him. Yeah, we’re excited about going forward. I think now he’s going to have a lot of opportunities and some with us. So, I think, as much as anything he’ll be setting his own schedule and kind of doing whatever he wants to do.”

How do you go forward from here balancing being on top of your game but also cherishing the moments to come?

Martin Truex: “Yeah, I’m just going to do my job and do what I’ve always done. Again, I don’t think anything changes here. I’m here to win this weekend and I’m going to do the best job I can do. Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t really overthink all of these things. I just make a decision, do my thing, go out and race and try to enjoy it and do a good job for the team. We’ve got a great team, great cars and we can win some races and that’s the goal.”

What will you miss most after the checkered flag waves at Phoenix in November?

Martin Truex: “Probably just the people. Just hanging out with the guys and going to dinner and talking about the race on the way home in the plane is always fun.”

Martin, is this an emotional day for you?

Martin Truex: “I’m not really that emotional, but I’m not sure. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, honestly. I’m just – I don’t really know. I’m looking forward to getting in the car.”

Do you envision yourself making an attempt at winning the Daytona 500?

“Maybe. I don’t know. I’d be open to it, yeah.”

Can you talk about how hard it is to maintain focus 40 weeks a year and if that wears on you?

Martin Truex: “It can. I think it just depends on who you are, your personality, your team and whatever – how things are going. Certainly, years where you have a good team, fast race cars, are always easier to navigate than a tough season. You’re in a place where your team is not where it needs to be or your cars aren’t where they need to be. You’re in this sport long enough, we all get in those situations. Those are really, really difficult. Trying to keep pushing forward and where’s that light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve certainly had my share of those seasons. But, yeah, it’s a tough sport. It’s a long season, it’s a grind and you’ve got to be fully committed. I think everybody here knows that. I’ve put more than half of my life into this and I’ve gotten a lot out of it so I’m proud of that.”

Did how well your team is performing make this decision any tougher for you?

Martin Truex: “No, I think it would be great to go out on top.”

What was so strong that kept you back from making this decision in previous seasons that changed this year?

Martin Truex: “I don’t know. I didn’t feel the same. I felt like I had more to accomplish and I would accomplish more. I really haven’t overthought it honestly. This just felt like the right thing to do for now. We’ll see.”

Did you consult any other drivers?

Martin Truex: “I mean, I have over the past couple years. Just getting people’s opinions or really their mindset of what did it for them which way. What steered them in each direction and I took all of that into account when I thought about it. But, yeah, just thought about it a lot and too much probably. Finally, it just feels right, right now. It just feels like I’m doing what I feel like is the right thing for me. Simple as that.”

Golin for Toyota Racing PR

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