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Martin Truex Jr. Preseason Thunder Q&A
Q: Martin, you're going to be renewing your battle this year with Clint Bowyer. He's going to be one of your rookie contenders this year. How much of a distraction is that going to be because obviously last year when you were in the Busch Series and you've already won a title, you're on familiar ground around familiar drivers, all of this is kind of new to you, so is that going to be a distraction because I know he's certainly gunning for you. He's made that clear on more than one occasion, that if he couldn't beat you in the Busch Series he wants to win this rookie contest.
And a quick follow-up, you said you went deer hunting in Texas. How did that go?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I'm sure he is gunning for me. If he beat me, I'd be gunning for him, too.
It would be cool to renew that battle. We've become friends off the track. He's a really cool guy and I enjoy racing with him. I at least I know what to expect from him on the racetrack, and that's a great competitor that's a lot of fun to race with and that always races clean. I don't have to worry about it.
I'm looking forward to racing with him and Reed and Stremme and all these guys I've raced with for a couple years now. I just hope I can continue the trend of beating him. That's going to be tough, no doubt about it. But I think we're up to the challenge, and not just them, but we want to be competitive each and every week, and we want to have a shot at winning some races. But we'll just have to see where it goes from the start of the year.
I'm real excited about the year and excited about the opportunity to race with them guys again for Rookie of the Year title.
About my deer hunting trip, it didn't go too well for me. I had a good time. I seen a lot of deer and stuff. Bono missed four times. I probably shouldn't tell everybody that (laughing). I never got to shoot. Well, I didn't see any big enough. Yeah, it was a good trip, it was fun.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, it's not very much fun. I mean, I've been sitting in that car sweating mad for two days that I'm slow, and they just keep making me go out there and run some more, and it doesn't get better.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No, the A team has got a pretty good car. Our stuff is just a little bit different.
Actually, a pretty cool story, yesterday was a long day for us; we were slow yesterday, too, and the heat was fast and I was sitting there pretty much, like, what the hell is going on, you know.
We go through the day and I left the track a little bit upset, not at anybody, just -- you know how you get down on anything. When you don't run good, you just sit there by yourself and think about why this is happening and what's going on. So I took a shower at the hotel and Richie called me, Richie Gilmore, and he said he was sending a plane home with five guys on it, and they went straight home and started building a brand new car just like the 8 car.
It's refreshing that they're standing behind this deal so good. Richie has done an awesome job of putting all this stuff together, all these people, bringing in new people, and they're dedicated to making these teams work. So they're home building a car right now for Daytona.
Q: Martin, you've talked about the season, about how you and Dale, Jr., will be able to run kind of similar setups and learn from each other in tests. But do you also see any part of your job now as his teammate to possibly pick him up when he gets down? Will it be your job at all to maybe motivate him if he struggles like he did last year?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, hopefully -- teams are supposed to work both ways, and hopefully I can do that for him. I'm not really sure how to -- I'm not really sure what to expect yet, how it's all going to work out, how things are going to go. I know our relationship as teammates will be really strong. I just hope that I can help him. I know he's going to help me a bunch. I know him and his whole team getting back together, they're going to be strong, I think, and to have them to lean on, not just Junior as the driver but his whole team and Tony, Jr., and all those guys, I just hope I can give something back. I guess we'll have to wait and see how we start off with the year and how things are going and how good of a job we're doing if that's possible.
Hopefully it'll be able to work both ways and we can both run well and help motivate each other and keep each other motivated and learn new things and get DEI back where it should be, and that's running up front every week.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No, I don't know. It's kind of hard to read him sometimes. He doesn't say too much sometimes about it. He wasn't happy, that's for sure. No racecar driver is happy when they have 30 bad weekends out of 36. It was a rough year for him, but he took a lot of lessons from it, I think, and I'm sure he's going to be better this year than he ever was.
Q: Martin, will your mindset change now that you're going Cup full-time from your Busch experience? And two, you were talking about working together with the 8. Will that be race to race, if something is working better for you, will the two crews share that information together, or will you keep the two crews separate?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, we're planning on doing everything together. We are moving into the same shop as soon as it's done. It probably won't be done until we race here. But that will be instrumental in our teamwork, I think, is building cars together and being in another shop.
You know, a lot of things are different when two different sets of guys are building cars. You may think everything is the same but a couple things here and there make a big difference. So to be in the same shop will help us a lot. I'm sure we'll do some of our own stuff, and like that's what happened here; our car is basically no good so we're going home and building one just like theirs. If we had a down force car when we go to Vegas that's really good and theirs was different, then they could build something like ours, too. We just try to help each other, hold each other up, make each other -- the plan is we just wan to run good no matter what it takes. I don't think the egos are -- there's any egos there where everybody is going to want to say that was my idea and wants to take credit for everything. I don't think that's the case.
We'll just have to see how it goes, but I'm real excited about it.
Q: Do you have a different mindset this year?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No, I don't think so. I mean, expectations for myself probably have to change a little bit I would say. I'd be stupid if I said I could go out and win every race or have a shot at winning every race because it's just so competitive. If I didn't have a chance last year or the year before, I was usually pretty upset after a race. I have to be cool with running 10th or 15th sometimes if that's what the day brings.
I don't really want to change my attitude or the way I go about racing. I still want to win and be the best there is out there. I don't plan on changing my outlook on how I'm going to try to make this happen.
Q: Richie Gilmore said that even at dinner last night he could tell that you and Dale, Jr., have an extremely healthy competition and that you're competitive but in a good way. He said as long as it stays healthy, it's going to be great. Can you explain what he means by that?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, we want to help each other win the race, but we also want to beat each other to win the race. We both want to be 1st and we both can't do it, so one of us has got to get 2nd. As long as we're up there helping each other and having fun -- we have fun racing, we enjoy racing together. We haven't done it much in the past, but when we run our Busch Cars here we have a blast when we run up front and push each other around, we just have a lot of fun with it. But we still like to beat each other, and that's the bottom line.
Q: This may not apply to you because of the pedigree that you come into the sport with, but there's seven rookies, and we can go back and make a list of the years where there's been four or five rookies and it always seems there's two or three that not only don't make it down the road, they just don't make it pretty much that whole year. I mean, the field will wear itself out.
It seems like you've got this really strong rookie class with six or seven guys that have good equipment and good records and good potential. Do you think that the competition among those guys is going to be more intense because you really are, from the very time you get into the sport, fighting for your job every time you go out there?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, I mean, it's going to be tough, like you said, just the six or seven of us racing each other for that Rookie of the Year thing. That's going to be like it was racing for the championship last year. It's going to be tough. It's not going to be easy, and the guy that wins it is going to have a lot of pride in it. I remember years where there's been one or two guys and one guy usually runs away with the rookie deal, but I don't think that's going to happen, this year especially and maybe never again. It would be a huge honor to win it. I don't think it'll equal a championship in the Busch Series, but it'll be right up there with it.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I'd like to do both, yeah. I don't know. Probably I would say. I don't know, there's a lot of good cars, so I wouldn't say that. You have to be competitive, and you couldn't have five, ten DNFs or something like that. You'd have to have a lot of top-10 finishes, that's for sure.
Q: Martin, just to follow up kind of on what you said before, you said Junior learned a lot of lessons last year that apply to this year. Can you kind of expand? What do you think that he learned?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, I'm not real sure. He could tell you better than I could, but I've heard him say it's mostly about people and working with people and how to treat each other and stuff. I think him getting back with -- him and Tony, Jr., used to bicker like brother and sister, or brothers because that's kind of what they were, and they realize now that they appreciate each other a whole lot more than they used to, and their relationship is a lot stronger.
That's probably one of the biggest lessons they've learned that I can see from the outside looking in. I'm not real sure about all the stuff, but I'm sure the way he talks about it, it was a good learning year for him. He didn't take much out of it, but he learned a lot that he's going to be able to use in the future, I think.