Toyota Racing – NCS Daytona Quotes – Martin Truex Jr. – 02.14.24

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media on Wednesday prior to the Daytona 500.

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

What does this race mean?
“This is the biggest one of the year. It kicks off a new season as well, which is kind of interesting, the excitement of the offseason preparation and then you come down here and see what you have. It’s always important to kick off the season on a high note, and for us, this is our 20th try at the Daytona 500 and hopefully it’s our turn.”

What are some of your best memories of this race?

“I guess finishing second. Not a great memory, but to be part of the closest finish in history here is cool. Just wish we were on the other side of it.”

How do you feel about the addition of extra Camrys this year?
“Yeah, I think it is a big deal for us to have extra cars. Superspeedway racing has been a challenge with Toyotas having the least amount of guys out there, so it has been hard to find people in the past. Hopefully, a few extra cars will help our strategy. It is always tricky when you do green flag stops and come out and get with your group right away, I think that’s the biggest challenge – having more cars should help us.”

How do you plan to watch your brother’s race on Saturday?

“The usual. Go out to pit road before and see him and wish him well and then watch it on tv.”

How has the dynamic of racing at Atlanta changed?

“Atlanta was always one of my favorite tracks. Old Atlanta was worn out and just a really, really tough place to get around and I really enjoyed that style of racing with the tire wear and all of the challenges that brought. Now it is completely different. It’s a mini-Daytona, so it is a lot different than it used to be. I still enjoy it. As far as superspeedway style of racing goes, that’s the closest to the mile-and-a-half racing that we have, it’s just a lot tighter pack than we have at mile-and-a-halves. It’s a little different than here and Talladega, but kind of the same approach. I liked it before, but it’s still alright.”

Does Sin City still live up to its name when you race out there?

“Not really. Honestly, for us on a two-day weekend, it’s all business. I don’t even leave the track when we go there. It’s not like the banquet – that was fun. When we go to race tracks it’s all business for everyone. It’s just too serious. There is too much on the line and the commitment level and the focus it takes is higher than it has ever been.”

How has the level of parity changed?

“I think it has changed a lot since I’ve been here. I think the last few years with the Next Gen car has been the biggest change I would say. It has constantly evolved since I’ve came in the sport as far as trying to tighten things up, but the Next Gen car just has taken it to a new level. You are talking about everybody having the same parts and pieces, that’s never been a part of this sport. That’s definitely been the game changer.”

How has your preparation changed for this race through the years?

“It used to be we were on track a lot, practicing, and trying things with our car and changing parts and pieces and now you go out there and kind of have what you have without a lot of practice. So, you look at a lot of analytics and studies of things that have been done and aerodynamics and video, but it’s all kinds of hands off as far as driving the car and figuring things out that way. It’s changed a lot for sure.”

Who do you think is the best superspeedway driver these days?

“I think there are a lot of guys that are really, really good at it. Denny (Hamlin) is certainly near the top. It is nice to have him in our camp to have with our deal. He’s very helpful. He’s very knowledgeable to help our guys with our gameplan and things, so I would say he’s probably right there at the top.”

What’s going to happen with the Toyota’s this year?

“I don’t know. I think based on what I know, we’ll probably not qualify great, which is kind of status quo for us with this car, but we should race well, and we have more Toyotas this year, which should be helpful. We’ve been in a deficit car number-wise at these speedways these last handful of years, so the more cars on the Toyota side will help and hopefully that is to our advantage.”

Is this another year where you are going to drag out the retirement decision?

“Yeah, probably. (laughter) I have no idea what I’m doing next year.”

How are you feeling now?
“I feel good. Ready to roll.”

Has Coach asked if you are going to be back next year?

“No. Not yet.”

What do you think about the next generation of drivers?

“I think there is a lot of talent, a lot of young talent around which is great. I think the sport is in a great place, and there is going to be a lot of competitive drivers for a long time to come. They are good for the sport – hard-nosed racers that get it. The family names are still going for a lot of them, it’s been fun to see the change over the years with the older drivers going out and the younger drivers coming in. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was one of the young guys. Time flies – but the sport is in good hands.”

Are the generations part of this sport?

“I think in general, it always has been a part of this sport. You watch your dad race, you want to race. I feel like that’s how everybody gets into this. It’s not like you go to school and learn how to race. You have to go to the track and you go with your family, so definitely a different way of getting into this sport versus others.

Do any of the younger guys lean on you?

“I’ve certainly talked to my share of the younger drivers, I would say that I’m not one of the first ones that gets seek out. I don’t hang out with a lot of drivers away from the track, but teammates throughout the years – it has been fun to help them as well. Ty (Gibbs) has been somebody that has been full of questions, so it has been fun to work with him and see his progress.”

How long did it take you to appreciate the closest finish in NASCAR history?

“I still don’t appreciate it to be honest. (laughter) Every time we drive into the tunnel here the picture is on the wall. Every time we come to Daytona it is something that gets talked about, so it is unfortunate to be on the wrong side of it, but cool moment to be a part of.”

Being the oldest driver in the Cup Series, does that push the urgency of anything you want to accomplish?

“No, I don’t think so. I’m still enjoying myself, and I’m still competitive. Just want to win more races, that is what it boils down to. Last year we were able to do that, and that was great. Just want to stay competitive and want to stay on top.”

What was your mindset last year coming off a winless season in 2022?

“I think for us – we kind of came in with a chip on our shoulders. It just made us look at everything as a team, and that is what we did last year. We started strong in ’23. It’s just self-reflection, team-reflection – everybody looks at everything you did good and everything you did bad – what are the humps that you need to get over? Just makes you work a little bit harder, makes you think about how bad you want it.”

Is it easier to look at when it doesn’t happen all the time?

“I guess so. For me, I had other winless years. It wasn’t something new for me. I have had a lot of tough years. This is a humbling sport, and it just reminds you how hard it is and how lucky you are when you are in a situation when you are winning a lot.”

How important were those last couple of races last season?

“I don’t know if it was a huge deal. Just for us – just finishing the year on a high note and realizing that, we didn’t lose it. We just didn’t completely disappear. Things didn’t go the way we needed it to. We made some mistakes here and there. I know we still have what it takes to do what we did in the regular season. Our goal is to start this year that way and make the Playoffs again, and do what we can, do what we know how to do and go further than we did last year.”

Would you be at peace if you don’t win the Daytona 500 in your career?

“I really haven’t thought much about it. There has been a lot of great drivers that haven’t won it. As we sit here, I can’t really imagine not getting it done. I appreciate the opportunity.”

Toyota Racing PR