Transcripts: Martin Truex Jr. – Press Conference – New Hampshire

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our race winner Martin Truex Jr. Congrats on the win. First win here at one of your many, many home tracks. Can you tell us a little bit about what this means to you and your family?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Sure, yeah. I think it’s no secret that I’ve been after this one for a long time. It’s always been one that I wanted so bad, and maybe I think too bad at times.

But it was well worth the wait to be able to do it here today finally, take home the lobster and put another win at Loudon with the name Truex on it. Very special.

Just an unbelievable day for our team and unbelievable job by everyone on our Reser’s Toyota Camry. The car was super fast again here like we’ve been in the past, but it definitely was fast all day long, not just the first two stages, so that was good.

Q. Martin, is it more of a Monday thing for you this year or is it more of a home track thing for you this year?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Man, I hate to say it, that it’s a Monday thing, but Mondays sure have been good to us. I don’t know, I think we could have won yesterday if it didn’t rain, but you never know.

The racing gods do funny things at times. Just glad we could put it together, honestly. Stage 3 came around and I’m like, all right, what’s going to happen. It all went to plan. We never got — the field never really flipped on strategy. We were always able to be at least equal tires to the guys around us or better. That’s really the difference from last year to this year, was just making the right decisions and the cautions not falling at inopportune times to put us in a bad spot.

James did a great job calling the race, when to take two, when to stay out, all those things, and he called it perfect, and race car was unbelievable.

Q. Obviously three wins for you now this year. Why do you think you and James have really clicked here in 2023?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Just experience with this race car really. I think James and I have always had a great relationship, have always gelled and worked really well together, understand each other. Last year was just one of those years where we had a lot working against us.

But we learned a lot, and now we’ve got better race cars. We have a better understanding of them, and that consistency that we’ve shown and the ability to lead laps and win races is proof of that.

We never changed a thing with our team, our people, our process, the way we did things. We just have better cars, better understanding of our cars, and showing up to the racetrack ready to roll with a lot of speed this year.

Q. You led nearly 85 percent of the laps today, 254 to be exact. I feel like we know that the 2016 Coke 600 is going to be No. 1, but where does this rank among the best cars you’ve ever driven in a race?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: I don’t know. I mean, it’s so hard to say how that works out. A lot of it depends on who’s around you. At times there was guys that were as fast as we were. Start of stage 3, we were on a little bit older tires.

Blaney was really fast. He put some pressure on running that really high groove, and then I got up there and kind of got that going, figured it out, and then was able to slightly pull away from him. And then at the end Logano was hanging, too.

You just never know in these races. Guys get better all day long. Everybody works on their car. Our car was so good you don’t really know what to do to make it better, and sometimes guys start catching up because you’re afraid to do anything.

That’s bit us here in the past. Today we were able to just make real small adjustments and the track didn’t really change that much but the groove changed a ton. I cannot believe where we were running at the end of that race, like in that old pavement way up high. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done here.

Pretty cool that it kind of moved around and worked out that way and our car, we were able to just run anywhere. Yeah, just a super good race car that was very maneuverable and could run different lanes, was good in traffic. I could pass cars and do what I needed.

I don’t know, I’ve had really good cars in the past at other places, and this place here you get out front, track position is a big deal, and we were able to take advantage of that today.

Q. What kind of family members did you have here today?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: None. Yeah, nobody was here today. This is actually kind of far from home. We used to drive up here, it was seven and a half hours or something like that. Nobody is here. They’re all at home. So they screwed up. (Laughter.)

Q. You haven’t been able to talk to anybody on the phone?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: I’ve seen my brother — I got a text back to my brother. He said, “finally.” I got one back to him and said, “hell, yeah.” I haven’t looked for anybody else yet.

Q. Obviously you’ve won here and had success in the past and done great things, and you’ve talked about what your dad has done here. A lot of times the sons want to top the fathers in different things or want to be able to match them or move forward. I know you’ve won here, but to win at this level, to win this type of race at a track where your dad had success, what does it mean from a son’s perspective of looking at hey, dad, I did it, or what would you say?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Yeah, thinking back to when I was a kid coming here and watching that and watching him win here in ’94, just those were my heroes growing up, the guys he raced against, Kelly Warren and Dave Dion and all the Busch North guys back in the day that were legends of the northeast, to watch him race with them, they were all my heroes, and then to start racing against them and win against them and move up and keep doing things, I just never would have thought.

When I was a kid coming here watching, I didn’t even know I’d get to do that some day. He really paved the way for me. He gave me great opportunities, speaking of my father. He was going to run a couple Busch North races in 2000, and I was going to run not the full season. I ran the first couple, and he ran here the first race of the year, and then after that race, he stopped racing altogether.

He’s like, you’re too good. I need to give you my cars — the best equipment I have and put everything behind you. I’m like, why are you doing that? Doesn’t matter. We’re just going to go race. He’s like, no, because you can win here and keep going. I didn’t even know that.

I owe a lot of this to him. But we came back here that next time in July, raced two at Loudon that year, and he gave me his car and his engine and I came here and sat on the pole and led every lap and won the race.

It’s crazy to think that was 23 years ago, what has been between then and now, and to be right here again at this track with just a huge accomplishing day, with a great performance from my team just brings back a lot of memories of what this place means to me and to my career.

Q. You guys always remember the ones that got away as much as the ones you win. When you look back at last year, how tough was that? How long did it take to recover, or if you have? I know James talked about it and said after Sonoma you guys were on the plane back and already talking about this. I’m sure there’s still a lot lingering even from last year.

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Yeah, I think they probably take it a little worse than I do, I’d say, and that’s a great thing for me because they’re just so determined. James is a grinder. He’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done. He’s always willing to go above and beyond. He works really hard, and I’m lucky to have him in my corner and running our team.

You know, I’ve been through so much in my career that I just kind of brush it off. I’m like, yeah. Wasn’t meant to be. We didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just the way — it’s racing. It will drive you absolutely nuts if you let it.

I’ve been through enough, and I’ve had enough races slip away throughout my career that I don’t let it get to me anymore. I didn’t do anything wrong. There’s nothing I could do; why let it bring you down; why let it get to you. Just brush it off, go to the next one.

But I think my team was really motivated, and they put a lot of effort into this one, and I appreciate that.

Q. You might have just answered this, but coming here growing up, what was your favorite memory here as a child?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: My favorite memory ever was coming here for what used to be Chevy dealers 250. It was a combination race. The Busch North guys could run with the Busch guys, combination race. They had them up until, I don’t know, ’96 maybe, something like that.

My dad was running. His car was parked in the garage nose to nose with Dale Earnhardt’s car. Dale was running that race, and just getting to see his car in the garage up close — I actually seen him up under the fender working on the carburetor, which back in the day that used to be something that a lot of the drivers did.

Just seeing that was really cool because he was one of my favorite drivers growing up. It was the first time I got around anybody of that caliber of racing, and it was a very, very special memory.

Then right there with it was when my dad won here in ’94 on TV with Darrell Waltrip and Buddy Baker commentating the race. That was pretty awesome.

Q. Three wins this year; perfect race today; extended the record; season championship lead.

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Beautiful.

Q. Yeah. Do you feel like there’s a separation now in terms of the championship favorites and do you feel like you’re the favorite?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: It doesn’t matter what I think. We’ve got to execute. We’ve got to go win races. We’ve got to get points. I was thinking this week — I seen the points pop up the other day and I was like, all right, if we have a perfect weekend we’ll be like one bonus point behind Byron — wait, no, not quite, but close.

We should be second now anyway. But the regular season championship is a big deal; 15 points for that. If we can keep knocking off bonus points, that’s going to be very, very important come playoff time.

Just keep digging and keep doing what we’re doing. The last two weeks have been tough with terrible finishes but really good race cars and really good runs. So we’re doing what we need to do, and just got to keep doing that and trying to keep gaining points.

Q. Joe was just in here, Joe Gibbs, and he says you’re having fun, you’re having a great year, you’re winning races. Why wouldn’t you come back next year?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Of course he says that.

Q. That is the question; why wouldn’t you come back?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: I don’t know. I’m not sure. You know, I was talking out there to Claire, and I was like, this sport isn’t exactly what it appears to be sometimes. It takes a big commitment.

My team is amazing. They deserve the very best driver, the guy that wants it more than anyone else, and I’ve been that guy. I want to make sure that if I come back, I’m willing to do that. It takes a lot. It’s not just show up at the track, drive the car, go home. It takes a lot. It takes a lot of commitment. It’s a lot of travel. A lot of time missing things with family and friends and all those things that I’ve done for 25 years. Do I want to keep doing it and am I willing to sacrifice all those things again for my team?

So that’s just what I’m thinking about. I don’t know that running good and winning makes a difference. It would be pretty awesome to win the championship and walk off into the sunset.

I just don’t really know. I don’t really know. I’m bad at making big decisions. I told somebody out there, I was like, I’ve been looking at salt water boats for five, six years. Love to fish, spend a lot of time on the water, and I haven’t pulled the trigger on a boat because I just can’t make up my mind on what I want. I’m just bad at big decisions.

I finally am about to buy one maybe this week. I wish I had more time to figure out what I want to do next year, but I don’t, so I’ll know soon and you’ll know soon.

Q. You caught the lobster first and then got the boat?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Well, yes, but I won’t fish for lobster on my boat. I’ll fish for fish. Tuna. Catch tuna, not lobster. I don’t know. It’s a long-winded question, but I just don’t know what to do.

Q. Obviously this is a big win, but when those cautions came out, did you get a little nervous there?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: No.

Q. Car was just that good?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Yeah. I mean, I knew what I had to do. The outside lane is preferred here on restarts. I knew if I could get a good jump I’d be in good shape, and that’s the way it worked out.

I think the first two I was a little bit like we were running so high on the track, a groove that we’ve never, ever run here before in anything throughout any point in time throughout my career. Maybe 10, 11 years ago we might have got up there one or two times, but in general that groove was really different.

On restarts I was a little nervous to go straight up there, so I kind of hedged lower, and the 22 hedged even lower than that, which was okay, and then he started to move up, I moved up.

I figured the next to last restart I was like, I probably need to get up there quicker and at least try it, so I did not want him to get to my outside. Luckily I fired it off in there to that third to fourth groove, and it stuck, and then from there it was like, I had a lot of confidence that I could do what I needed. I pulled away two, three car lengths and I could settle in from there.

The last restart I knew exactly what I needed to do, and it worked good. I never really got nervous. You just try to execute and think of all the things that could go wrong and try to not let those happen.

Q. How much did that lobster weigh (indiscernible)?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: I’m not sure. What is he, 28 pounds, something like that? 22? Didn’t feel too heavy to me, but I was all jacked up on adrenaline. I’d damn sure like to go throw him on the grill right now if you can help me find him. Lobster rolls for everybody.

Q. Was it unsettling at all that drivers were working other lines, and we kind of heard your spotter at one point tell you and you said, well I can’t — sounded like there were some lines that were working well for you but some lines that weren’t.

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Yeah, it was interesting how much it moved around today. Like I said, that super high groove is something that you’d have never thought about doing here last year or two years ago. I don’t really know why, something with the tire, I guess, that Goodyear brought.

When I first — when guys were first running up there, and I’m like, where the hell are they going, the first couple times I slid up there on accident and tried it, I was like, ooh, that felt like a lot of grip up there.

Then it just took a little while to figure out that it would work because I’ve never even thought about doing that here. In years past you get up there you’d about bust your ass.

It was very different and took a little getting used to, but at the end it was way faster to be up high, so it was pretty cool.

Q. Piggy-backing, thoughts on the new tire after a full race going forward for future short tracks?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Yeah, I mean, I thought it was good for here. I thought there was more falloff than we’d had in the past.

Still had an option to do two. I don’t know that I like that. I kind of like — wish they would wear a little bit more, maybe fire off a little faster, maybe slow down a little bit more. It was still hard to pass. You could still take two.

Still probably could go softer. I know Goodyear hates when we talk about it like that, but I still think that would be better. But all in all, seemed like a pretty good race. This place is just hard to pass. It is what it is.

That top groove, especially when that came in, that was pretty dominant, so it was going to be hard to pass guys on older tires.

It seemed like newer tires, you could pass a little easier than older, which is I guess a good thing. I don’t know.

Q. Your brother sent this picture from back in the day.

MARTIN TRUEX JR: There it is. He’s drinking a bottle.

Q. Can you tell me what kind of memories come when you see that?

MARTIN TRUEX JR: Yeah, just crazy to think about what has happened between then and now, and then also just how fast time flies by.

That was, what, 22 years ago probably. I was probably 13; Ryan was one, I’m guessing.

It’s crazy how fast time goes by. That’s what makes the retirement decision a question mark, and part of that is how fast time goes and when you want to stop working and enjoy it.

But just seeing that, just a reminder of what this place means and how long we’ve been coming here and what it means to win here again was very, very special.

THE MODERATOR: Martin, congratulations. Thank you for your time.

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