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May 13, 2017

Martin Truex, Jr.

Kansas City, Kansas

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by tonight's winner of the GoBowling 400 at Kansas Motor Speedway, and that is none other than Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No.78 Auto Owners Insurance Toyota for Furniture Row Racing. Martin, so close last year, you were able to pull through and put it into Victory Lane today. How satisfying was that for you?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I can't even tell you. It feels amazing to be here. It's been a long time coming to this racetrack for sure. We talked, I guess, on Friday about it. The close calls, the laps led, the heartbreaks that we've been through here. Definitely proud tonight to finally cross that checkered flag first and bring it home for the guys.

Q. Does your past history here‑‑ first of all, I'm sure you're aware when you come back of some of the close calls. I know every race is sweet to win, but does it make it sweeter to be sitting here talking about a win after being robbed a couple of times?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It does, I'm not going to lie to you. You know, as a racer, you don't forget. You don't forget those days that ones got away or you screwed up and gave one away or anything like that. You never forget those things. They always stick with you. Definitely last year was probably the biggest heart breaker to have the craziest thing happen that you could ever imagine, and eight‑second lead just gone and wherever‑‑ I don't remember where we finished because it was so heartbreaking.
Yeah, I mean, it's definitely sweet redemption tonight. Definitely feels good to be here, and I feel like it's been a long time coming, and we definitely earned it, that's for sure.

Q. Cole came in here and said that there were about 15 cautions that could have screwed it all up for you. What were you thinking there in the closing laps and then obviously Erik spinning to bring out one of those cautions?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I'm like, damn, Erik, come on now, your teammate is leading the race, don't be causing cautions. I mean, I was gone. Funny story, I actually had that happen to me one other time at MWR when I was running the NAPA 56 car. We were at Texas, and there was a handful of laps to go, and we were gone, six‑second lead, something like that. Back in those days, we didn't win a lot. Mark Martin was my teammate, scraped the wall. There was nothing on the racetrack, debris caution was thrown. Kyle Busch beat me off pit road, I finished second. I've been in that boat before. Lucky for Erik, I didn't screw up the last couple restarts.

Q. I know you were cursing Erik‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No, I didn't curse. You should listen to my radio. I said, who spun out. They said, Erik. I said, what the hell. They said, oh, the 13 spun him out, and I never said another word. So I was just checking.

Q. But he was obviously a huge key for you on that third‑to‑last restart, the restart before that. Take me through that restart. Was that one of the best restarts you've had in a long time because it looked fantastic the way you were able to avoid the block from Blaney and then move around him?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, Blaney was blocking pretty good, but I just had enough momentum and time just right that I could get to his other side when he blocked low. You know, those moments, you know what you need to do, and you try to do the best you can do. Eight out of ten times it happens the way you hope it will, and you hope that the two times that it doesn't go your way that you're not racing for a win.
You know, tonight we did everything right. When the pressure was on, when the money was on the line, we made the right moves, and everything worked out. You know, you could try that move two or three more times, and it might not work. Just the way it worked out tonight.
I knew if I didn't come out of those restarts with the lead, I probably wasn't going to win. Our car was really fast, but if we didn't get the lead on the restarts, it probably took us at least 20 laps to get good enough to pass those guys for the lead. The leader had a huge advantage tonight, so to get the lead on those restarts was big, and I knew that was going to be the race, and luckily we were able to make it happen.

Q. What's going through your mind when they're showing on television all the emergency response workers there in Turn 2 and they're having to pull Aric out from the car and put him on a backboard and stabilize him.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, that's the worst. You never want to see it. You know, Aric is a friend of mine. He volunteered to be in our fashion show this week, Catwalk For a Cause, our big foundation fundraiser. Him and his wife, great people, family guy, and just such a nice family and such a nice guy. I was really scared when I seen that and worried for him, obviously. I hope he's doing good. I hope it was just safety precautions that they had to take care of and get him out of there on a stretcher, but I hope he's doing well. Definitely thinking about him.

Q. The other thing we talked about besides the jinx here was your domination at Charlotte last year‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Aren't we going there next?

Q. What kind of cloud are you floating on right now to have won here and now going back to Charlotte where you had the race of your life?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Man, I'll tell you, the last two years have just been‑‑ it's just every weekend has had that feeling. I know that we've been in position to win a lot of races. We've had‑‑ I've had a couple of the greatest years of my career with this team, and I just can't wait to show up at every racetrack. It doesn't matter where it is, Charlotte, to come off of a season like last year that we had at that racetrack, going into the All‑Star Race is exciting. That's a race that everybody wants to win. It's cool just to be a part of that. But to know that you have a shot going in to win that thing is special.
So I'm jacked up, man. I'm ready to go. I'm telling you, it's every week, though. I mean, you look at a couple weeks ago we went to Bristol, which has not been one of our best racetracks, and honestly had a shot to win until we spun on pit road there. This team is to go, it doesn't matter where we go, we can fight for wins. We are going to be right there, and it's time to pounce. It's time to get some big ones. We've got a few here, and hopefully we'll get some more.

Q. I think from the time of the wreck to the time you got green flag racing again there was a 36‑minute delay. How do you compartmentalize and block any concerns about your own safety, things like that? How do you handle that time while you're waiting and probably trying to keep an eye on them cutting him out of the car and all that and get yourself ready to get back out there knowing but for the grace of God go you?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, it depends on the situation, you know. Tonight I sat there, I tried to watch the big screen as much as I could. Definitely talked to my crew chief a little bit at first about what happened, what was going on, and was he out of the car yet and all that stuff, and he kind of kept me up to speed, and I got to where I could kind of turn my head enough to see the big screen, and when I seen him they were getting him out and he was one a stretcher. I just kind of put my head down and closed my eyes and gave him a few prayers to hope that he was doing good. And honestly, I was so relaxed and comfortable, I just‑‑ my eyes were shut for a few minutes, and I think I almost fell asleep at that point.
Being in the car is relaxing. It's a place where I'm comfortable. Most drivers are the same way. Definitely I was thinking about Aric a lot for sure. But once that yellow comes back out, you've got to put your game face on. You've got to go back to work and try to do the best you can. Hope he's doing good. Still thinking about him for sure.

Q. It seemed like when you guys would have a brand new set on, you could pin it down to the bottom for maybe a couple laps and then it moved up to the center. It's kind of unique to watch you guys run through the center so long and then you worked your way up to the top. Talk about how you had to move as those tires wore out, and were you surprised how many‑‑ it looked like 75, 80 percent of the guys running the top for a really long time.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, it was interesting tonight just how much the track changed, how much the groove moved. Early in the race the middle was good, but on the long runs you had to run the top or you were too slow. And then as the race went, as it cooled off, sun went down, track cooled off, it got to where the middle on long runs was best. At the end of the race, low middle is where I was running and nobody could run as fast as we could on the long runs.
You know, we didn't change our car a ton tonight. The track didn't change a lot as far as how the car drove or the balance I didn't think, but the way I drove the car, the lines I ran changed constantly all night long. So that was fun. It was neat to move around, get to do different things, and hopefully get on a line quicker than the guys around you and make up some room, make up some spots and some time.

Q. Was it difficult to pass?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It was very difficult to pass when the top line was the preferred line. You know, when the sun was still out a bit, 3 and 4 was real hard to see. And any time that very top line was the fastest place to be, it was impossible to pass the guy in front of you. I mean, you just literally couldn't get close enough to him, you couldn't follow him into a corner. At that point the top was so much faster than any other groove on the racetrack, there was no way you were going to get by them. I was glad that it moved back down as it cooled off so we could make some passes for the lead eventually.

Q. How pumped are you to go back to Charlotte where you were so dominant, not only for the Coke 600 but also for next week's All‑Star Race?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I mean, we're jacked up. We're ready to go every week, like I said a few minutes ago, and just to think that we're going to be playing in the All‑Star Race‑‑ the All‑Star Race has never been a place that‑‑ Charlotte has never really throughout my career been a place that we were really stellar at. The last couple years really gotten good there. Last year obviously won the 600, but we really struggled in the All‑Star Race. I'm definitely excited to get back there, see what we can do, and feel like it'll be the first time I had a real legitimate shot to get that All‑Star win. I mean, that's a huge feather in the cap. That's something that everybody in the series wants to do, and I can't wait to try.
THE MODERATOR: Martin, congratulations on the victory, and good luck in the next two weeks.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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