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September 17, 2017

Martin Truex, Jr.

Joliet, Illinois

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our race winner, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No.78 Furniture Row Denver Mattress Toyota.
This is the second year in a row that you have won the race. Got a little slimy in Victory Lane. Talk about that first.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, just spent about five minutes in the bathroom washing my hands and face trying to get all the green stuff off.
I remember watching Nickelodeon as a kid, watching that show where it was like an obstacle course thing, they would get slimed all the time. I thought it was hilarious. It's a lot funnier to watch people get slimed than it is to get slimed. It's a lot slimier than I expected. It was definitely worth it to get that after the race today. Thanks to Nickelodeon.
Yeah, definitely excited to be able to come to the first round of the Playoffs this year and cap it off with a win. Proud of my team. It was not an easy day by any means. We had the speeding penalty, the issue with the lug nuts on the pit stop. Think we went from last to third in 80 some laps in stage two. That felt pretty good.
Then honestly, just kept tweaking our car all day long. It was not where we wanted it at the start of the race. Probably through the first 50 or 80 laps, we were off a little bit, just kept getting it better and better. I thought by the last hundred laps of the race, it was really, really good.
Just proud of everybody for sticking with it all day. Here we are.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for our race winner.

Q. Does this erase any of the sting from the last couple of weeks? Did you feel like you wanted to make a statement today considering the last couple of weeks?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You know, I don't know. I mean, I think last week was last week. We got over it by Monday or Tuesday, focused on Chicago. Just trying to move forward and look forward each and every week and race one race at a time.
We knew that this week was a big one. We wanted to come here and just run like we knew we could, not do anything out of the ordinary. Most importantly not let the pressure dictate how we raced or what we did. I think we did that.
Like I said, really proud of everybody for executing and getting the job done. I definitely put us behind with the speeding penalty, kind of got caught off guard there. Didn't think we were speeding.
As far as making a statement, I don't think we really came here to do that. I think we just came here to race, try to race to the best of our abilities, and at the end of the day accomplish what we feel like we're capable of. That's what we did.
Like I said, just proud and thankful for everyone and their support, their hard work and effort. Luckily we were able to put it all together today.

Q. When you lost the track position, were there any close calls or any concerns by you that you were back there where anything could happen, you weren't going to be able to get a clean run to get back up to the front?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You never know how those things are going to go. I was like, Here we go. It's like last year all over again. Last year here we had the tire unravel and lost a lap. I thought to myself, At least this year we stayed in the lead lap with our troubles. We'd been in this position before.
The good thing, if you're going to have trouble, you want it to be at a place like Chicago, where the track is so wide, there's so many options. I felt like I could run almost anywhere on the racetrack today and make almost identical lap time, which is definitely a unique thing for this day and age. Most of the racetracks we go to, typically you find one or two grooves that are best, better than anything else. Today I felt there were so many options. I could just go where the guys weren't and get by them.
Fortunately, like I said, it was definitely a good track for it to happen at because of the options.

Q. Having the win now and knowing that you're clear into the next round, is that a good thing, a bad thing, because now you guys don't have to push it as hard?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, I mean, last year we were in the same position and almost won New Hampshire and won Dover. I honestly don't think we change. I think on top of that this year, with the bonus points available, stage wins, all that, as far as I know all the bonus points we gain in this round, they go to our total so we get them next round as well. It's kind of like the regular season. Once you win that race, you're locked in, but that doesn't stop you from trying to go win again because of the points, the bonus points. You want to get as many of those as you can just for a safety net.
From our standpoint, really our outlook, our approach doesn't change from what it was in the regular season. We go every single week to try to win both stages and try to win the race, try to get as many of those points as we can in case we have something happen like we did last year at Talladega.

Q. In the last 30 or 40 laps, did you see anything on the track that you thought, They better not call a caution for this?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No, I didn't. I got lucky. There was absolutely nothing. There wasn't even like a hot dog wrapper or anything.

Q. Because of what's happened the last couple weeks, anything running through your head like, What's going to happen now?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No, not really. I was just counting them down like normal. I was thinking, Well, you know, if a caution came out, we're going to be all right because our car was really fast on that last restart, I mean really fast. We ran the fastest lap of the race, I think, when we fired off there. So I definitely wasn't worried as much as, say, last week when we knew we were probably not as good for 10 laps as a few of those guys. So I kind of had that in my head.
At the same time I was thinking, once he said it was about 10 to go, I was like, All right, I hope Cole is getting our tires ready in case a caution comes out and make some changes to be good on a short run, to make sure we fired off even better.
Yeah, I mean, you never want to say, Geez, what the heck is going to happen now? You always try to be positive. But you're kind of thinking in the back of your mind, What are we going to do if it does come out? Are we going to be prepared?
Actually today I really wasn't worried because I knew our car was fast on the short run and our pit crew, the last time we stopped, had a really good stop, so they had that confidence as well. I wasn't nervous about it at all.

Q. (No microphone.)
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Hell yes. Five years ago I would have been, Please, please, no caution. Please, no caution. Because I lost a bunch of them. When I was at MWR, we lost a bunch of races before we finally won our first one dominating like that, come into the pit stops, get beat out of the pits, it would be over.
For sure five years ago, yeah.

Q. You mentioned being able to experience what you've seen some other dominating drivers have, the types of seasons. I asked Barney about it when he was in here. He said it's so rare to watch one group of people work so extraordinarily well together. When you look back at your career, how does this unit compare to some of the other places you worked as far as do you see a big difference being able to accomplish things this season?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I would say because we've been together for three years as a group, that yes, I've never been in a position like this. I feel like when we first got together, we just clicked extremely well. We have similar backgrounds. We have similar approaches. We're very different people, but we complement each other well at the racetrack, communicate really well, have a lot of respect for each other.
I feel like I've had a few people around me like that before. Chad Johnson sticks out in my mind as one of those guys, but we never had the support group around us to get to the next level.
I feel like right now we just have everything. We have the right people. We have the right support. We have the right guys behind us. We have the right information coming in. We really just have it all going on for us right now, and things are clicking. We're taking advantage of it.
So to answer your question, without a doubt, you have to say this is the best position I've ever been in. You can't deny it. You can't argue it. At the end of the day, a lot of it's just people, communication, confidence. You look at the other guys that have everything the same that we do, and look how we're running. That just really shows that our guys, the communication, kind of just how we're clicking right now is the difference. Everything's going the way we need it to.

Q. What is different this year from the previous two years that could make the difference for you?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Just experience, I think. Confidence, you know. We've been in this position the last two years really. Last year we had the speed that we have now I feel like. We didn't have it as consistently. Two years ago we didn't have the speed, we just executed well. So now I feel like we've got all of that put together this year, where we're very consistent. We really don't have any tracks I feel like that we're not good at.
It's just being confident each and every week no matter where we're going is the difference. We don't have any big question marks on the schedule any more. Maybe Martinsville is probably our worst track still. I think that's about the only one. Talladega, of course, is a wild card. Martinsville, we haven't had winning speed there yet. We've been getting closer. I feel like we've been between maybe fourth and seventh the last few trips there. So we need to get better. I feel like everywhere else we can go and win. That's the difference.
We've been chipping away at these tracks, putting together a good notebook, putting together some good ideas that seem to work, continuing to go back and play on that.
Just repetition and time together I think has just helped us get better and better each year.
THE MODERATOR: Martin, congratulations. Good luck next weekend in New Hampshire.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Thank you. See you next week.

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