Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to media after winning the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday. It is the eighth pole for Toyota in nine Playoff races, while Toyota placed five drivers inside the top-seven starters for the first time since Charlotte’s 600-mile race in May of 2022.
Truex’s teammate, Ty Gibbs, will join him on the front row with a career-best starting position.
MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
What kind of emotional roller coaster do you feel like you are on?
“Just kind of par for the course here lately, so just trying to keep your head on straight and go out and do your job. That’s how I came in here thinking about doing, and it went the way we hoped it would, so thanks to the guys for bringing a fast Auto-Owners Camry. First pit stall is a huge deal here, so hopefully we can use it to our advantage tomorrow.”
Now that you have the pole, do you wait for the other shoe to drop?
“No, not really. I feel good about how today went. I think we need to work on our car a little bit for tomorrow. It wasn’t quite what I think we needed for the long runs. We have a direction there. I think today – practice was a really good indicator there – sometimes we come here and it’s cold and not a lot of rubber grip down and it could change a lot for today – but today I feel like was a good indicator and we learned a lot. I know what we need to do, and now we have to go do it. We will see what happens. We are ready to go.”
With the possibility of good stage points, do you think you still need to win?
“I think 17 is a long ways out. Maybe if we could win both stages, it might change things around, but we will just wait and see. I don’t think stages are really on my radar right now, but we were certainly take them if we can get them.”
Where do you think you picked up that eight-thousandths of a second on your teammate?
“Just made a little adjustment to my car. The first round – I wasn’t real sure exactly how hard to go, how hard to push it or what the balance was going to be like. Last time, we were here – the tires were different, the weather was different and our car was pretty free in practice, so I was a little concerned about that, but the guys made good adjustments and the car was really close. I think for round two we just made a small adjustment and made the car more comfortable, gave me a lot more confidence on throttle and that was where the difference was.”
Was it a huge leap in practice in qualifying?
“We were in group two in practice, and we were fastest. The track slowed down a little bit for group two. Overall, we just put our qualifying setup in, got the balance right – and they did that. That’s typically what we try to do. It is always tough. Back in the day, we used to make qualifying runs in practice, and now you kind of guess. They guessed really well today.”
Could you tell any difference with the tire?
“It’s so hard to tell because of the conditions. There was definitely a lot of rubber down today, which I think is great. It is going to help us race well tomorrow, move around and make some passes. I thought the bottom groove really got rubbered in and got slick, which is typically what happens when the race is really good, so I think that is a good sign. As far as how different it is, it’s so hard to tell. A lot was different today.”
When you go back and see how the Playoff have gone, if you make the Championship 4 are you living on the edge?
“We’ve been living on the edge that’s for sure. We barely made it through the first two rounds, so that’s been tough for sure – but tomorrow is a new day, and a new opportunity. We are in a position where I think we can go and win the race and we will see what happens. I try not to over think it – just go out and race and that is my plan for tomorrow.”
How many confidence do you have at Martinsville?
“I think we got to a point with the old car that we had some things that really worked for me. We used to have it for a long time, and just did some fine tuning, tweaking here and there. Learning how to race and learning how to win here, you learn a lot about the track and what it takes. Then they switched the car and that’s been a challenge for us. Last year, we were in trouble here and then in the spring, we were kind of hit and miss throughout the day. I feel like we are still learning some things here about this car – what do I need here, what are things that kind of turn that switch for me here at this race track and do the things that I want it to. I don’t know if we are quite there yet, but hopefully tonight we can make some good adjustments and be in the mix all day tomorrow and then at the end, you really need to be upfront and be dialed in, so hopefully we can make that happen.”
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