Toyota Racing – NCS Sonoma Quotes – Martin Truex Jr. – 06.10.23

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to media prior to the NASCAR Cup Series event at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday:


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

What is about Sonoma that drivers appreciate over other road courses?

“The old asphalt here and the soft tire that Goodyear brings is a good combination, good speed taking off, you can really hustle the car and then five laps in you are starting to wear tires out and safe them. It is a lot different than any other road course that we go – and add in elevation changes, and things like that. It is a fun track. It is different than a lot of the newer tracks we go to.”


Do you have a layout that you prefer?

“I thought that they were both fun in their own respect. The carousel was a fun challenge, but I don’t think it caused enough drama. Turn seven is pretty crazy with the dive bombs and things on restarts, especially, so the excitement level with the drama – they wanted to get that back. Both courses are fun, challenging and tough to win at. “


What is your take on the lack of stage cautions here at Sonoma?

“I’m not sure. I think strategy comes in more when the cautions fall – it can certainly be a big factor in what happens during the race. In the past with stage racing, with the breaks, you kind of knew what you were going to do. If you wanted to try to win, except for one year, you had to pit before the cautions, before the stages, and give up stage points to have a chance at winning. Only one time it was done, where someone won stages, and won the race. I think now it’s just more straight forward, the guys that start up front will have a big advantage, qualifying will be more important than the past few years.”


Is there a reason that your road course finishes have been not as good with the Next Gen car compared to previous generations?

“No, it certainly is. Last year, I think as a group in general, we struggled on road courses and really never hit on anything much last year that worked very well, and now this year, I think we are lot closer. We ran pretty decent at COTA. I wouldn’t say COTA is a great measuring stick for us – at least for me – I don’t really feel like I have that place figured out. Tyler (Reddick) in the 45 car was dominate. We know that the opportunity is there with our cars this year, where we didn’t feel like it was last year, so hopefully we can be a lot better here than we were last year. It was a really big struggle for us, compared to years past, so we have a lot of new ideas and a lot of new things in our car this year from last year. I’m excited to get out there and see what it’s got.”


Is there a driver adjustment on a road course with the Next Gen?

“Honestly, not really. You drive the car as hard as you can. It’s still about the same things. It’s about getting in the corner as deep as you can and trying to out-brake people. Hitting your marks, hitting your shifts, all of the things it takes to get around a road course are still the same, it’s just a different car. We really haven’t honed in on how to make it fast yet.”


What are your expectations for the Chicago Street Course?

“I really don’t know. It’s going to be so dictated on how rough the streets are, how rough the track is. These cars don’t have a lot of suspension travel, they are really stiff, they bounce a lot. If it’s as bouncy as I think it’s going to be, it could be a handful, so I really don’t know. The only experience I have is iRacing, a couple of years ago, on it. I haven’t even been in the simulator yet, so that will be the first thing to tackle, and we will see where we go from there. It should be fun. It will be different than anything we’ve ever done, and I look forward to that. It is always fun to do new things.”


Are you excited for the off week, or do you wish you could keep going with the momentum that you have?

“I don’t know that it really matters. We’ve got a great team. We know what we are capable of now. We have a lot of confidence back that we lacked last year in our decision making and doing things throughout practice, whether it was strategy or whatever, it seems like things are clicking right now. I don’t know that an off week will change anything. We could probably use a few more off weeks before the playoffs if I’m being honest with you, but we don’t get those so I’m ready whenever.”


Is there one thing you can point to on why you are more successful this season?

“I think just better cars in general. Better cars, better understanding on what we need on the race tracks. Last year was a big learning curve. We were trying to figure out what direct we needed to go at races with this car and having 15-minute practices where you opt in on what you show up with, there is no real time to recover if you show up with some bad ideas, or things that didn’t work. You have to wait till you go back till that track again. Just all of that learning process and figuring things out has been a big factor for us. I think our cars are better this year as well. Toyota did some work in the off season and everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) worked hard to try to put the pieces together, so I think overall, we just have a better platform to work with and a better understanding of what we need.”


Have the differences with Next Gen car changed the passing zones?

“I think the passing zones are still the same places that they’ve always been here. Turn 12 is the biggest one, but getting in that corner, getting off that corner, there is probably the best passing zone. Turn seven is another good one. When the tires wear out here, there is a lot of places you can pass. That is where guys really start to struggle. If you can take care of your stuff, you can pass them in different areas. It just changes the speed of the car in different places around here, different corners, a little more grip, and then the shifting is a little bit easier as well. No real worries about missing shifts these days – they took that out of the equation. No worry about hurting brakes, just for here, managing tires is going to be a big deal.”


How important is the off weekend?

“I’ll be away doing stuff. I’ll probably be fishing or hanging out. It’s kind of is easy for me. I try to get away from racing a couple of days a week no matter what just to keep my sanity. I’ve been doing this a long time. I’ll talk to (crew chief) James (Small) on Monday. I’ll talk to James, usually on Wednesday or Thursday again, so I’ll have a few days in between there to kind of regroup and keep my sanity.”


Do you think the win helped get the pressure off your back?

“It is definitely easier when you’ve won a race, especially in today’s format, with getting locked into the playoffs, you don’t have to worry about that. You can kind of relax, go race and do your thing. I wouldn’t say it hurt anything, by any means, but at the same time, having better race cars and showing up ready to go on these weekends without a lot of guessing is a big deal. Pit crew has been coming around here lately. We have still had a few hiccups here and there. It’s so important to execute in the race these days with how close the field is and how hard it is to pass at certain tracks. You have to do everything right. You have to all of the little things right. We’ve been able to do that pretty well the last month or so, but really feel good about what we’ve done all year as far as the speed of our cars, and how we’ve able to race. I feel like we’ve had winning cars three or four races this year already. It was nice to get one of them, but we would like to have more, so we will keep working on it.”


What are you doing to try to earn your fourth win at Sonoma?

“As much as we struggled here last year, I’m really anxious to get out there and see what we have. I’ve been thinking about it all week. We have a lot of different things in our car this year, a lot of parts and pieces, but a whole different set-up, a whole different mindset, more geared to what we used to try to come here and do. I’m excited to get out there and see what we can do with it. Hopefully, we will find some of that old magic.”


Is Tyler Reddick’s knowledge on road courses with the Next Gen car, does that also help you at Joe Gibbs Racing?

“Yeah, for sure it is. Especially, the simulator stuff and then looking at his data. Everybody was looking at his data at COTA. I guess the benefit for us is that we get to ask him questions and hear about it – why did you do this and why did you do that. I think there is a lot of benefit to that these days. Definitely, the simulator time as well. We’ve only raced the one road course this year, so we still have a lot to go and a lot to do here, but for sure it was crazy impressive what he did at COTA.”