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June 3, 2018

Martin Truex, Jr.

Long Pond, Pennsylvania

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No.78 Bass Pro Shops 5‑Hour Energy Toyota. This was Martin's second win of the season and also second win here at Pocono raceway. Why don't you take us through that final restart and the ending there.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, final restart, really the end of the race just kind of played into our hands. We decided to stay out there when some guys pitted. Like four of us stayed out or whatever. But yeah, really, we were good on scuffs yesterday in practice, and that kind of led to that decision, and Cole said stay out, and I was like, I think this is a good idea. So luckily it worked out for us. We ransom really fast lap times at the end, but the restarts are always‑‑ always a question mark. You're always a little bit nervous just hoping you do everything right and hoping two guys don't get that bumper‑to‑bumper kind of tandem thing going and get a run on you. We were able to hold them off, and I felt like if we could get to Turn 1 with the lead I felt pretty confident we could hold them off, and that was the case.
Awesome day by everybody on the team. We had to battle a little bit back from a bad pit stop, but just in general had a really good car. Everybody did a great job all weekend long and made the right decisions. Just happy today that things kind of went our way a little bit for once. It's been tough lately, but it was an awesome day, awesome place to win, and really proud of everybody.

Q. Last week you said that you had top‑5 speed but not winning speed, were your words. Do you feel like that has changed in a week? Or was this more a product of the track position and clean air that you had at the end?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I would say that I think we had winning speed today for sure. It seemed like stage 1 was passed the 4 for the lead, and then we were able to check out. Towards the end of the race there, it was 18 leading, we were second, 4 was third, and we were all just sitting there, couldn't get any closer to each other, and I felt like whoever was out front at that point was going to be the car to beat. We were all so closely matched.
Yeah, for sure today I thought we hit it really well. I thought we made good changes from yesterday in practice. But really in general all weekend I felt good about the car and felt like we've had speed.
You know, I was a little worried after the bad pit stop. I was like, here we go again, we're battling back, we're going to finish‑‑ struggle to finish in the top‑5 again. But luckily, like I said, it worked out, and just seems like lately we've been fast, we've just been a tiny little bit off on getting the balance the way we need to, and we've been a little bit inconsistent throughout the weekend as far as hitting it. I felt like today was the first weekend in a while, even though we've been finishing good, that everything made sense, everybody‑‑ we had kind of a game plan, and everything went the way we thought it would, and it was just a smooth weekend. It felt like we were doing all the little things right. So that's always a good feeling, and that's something that we really had last year. We had a lot of confidence in our decisions and making the right adjustments for race day and things like that, and I felt like this weekend we did that. So yeah, I feel good about where we're at, and it was definitely a great weekend and a great way to finish off a weekend today.

Q. You won twice this year, but I think it's fair to say there's been kind of a big two with Busch and Harvick. Is there a big three now? Can we say that about you after today?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: If you want to. I think if you look at our season as a whole, you look at the amount of spots we've lost on pit road. We had four weekends where obviously we finished really bad, poorly. We had two blown tires and got caught in two wrecks four weeks in a row, which really hurt us and set us back momentum‑wise, but more so points‑wise. Besides them four races, we've been top‑5 all but once. So if you look at that, it's like, it's pretty good.
The things that we've had to battle back from to keep finishing in the top‑5, it's hard to do. We've passed 91‑‑ we had 91 quality passes at Charlotte. It was way more than anybody else had to finish second. In the last run of the race we were the fastest car on the racetrack. We've had more battles this year. We've had more adversity. Last year I felt like things just‑‑ it was almost like we couldn't do anything wrong.
This year we've had to really work a lot harder for it, but I feel like we're still right there, and today was a perfect example. We went up there in Stage 1 because we qualified well and had a good car on the long runs, and we put ourselves in position to win, even though we had to come from 14th in Stage 2.
But at the end of the day, things went our way. We had that caution, some guys decided to pit, we decided to stay out, and it played into our hands because our car was good on long runs, it was good on older tires, and most importantly it was good on scuffs, which we found out yesterday in practice. Sometimes you can have the best of everything, and if things don't go your way it's impossible. Today we did all the little things right and had a little bit of luck on our side, as well, and that's what it takes at this level.

Q. It looked like especially early in this race, first stage, you, Kevin, Kyle were all kind of right on top of each other there, and it looked like there was some good racing. There's been a lot of talk about the packages that everyone has run, whether we're going to go to the All‑Star package later in the season or not. What was your take on the product we saw today?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I thought the racing was good today. I thought watching the Xfinity race, it was pretty disappointing to see the way that they raced with that package. But obviously it's not dialed in for this racetrack yet, and it's not‑‑ I don't think really the way to go for this track.
With that being said, last year the fall race we had a really good race there, as well, I thought for Pocono because it's typically‑‑ because it's so fast and the turns are so flat it's tough to pass, it's tough to stay really close tucked up to the car in front of you. I would say in general that it was probably a little bit easier to stay close to a car in the fall last year than it is now, but with that being said, I thought today was a good race. We had a few passes for the lead. For the most part it was guys battling for position, and we had some restarts at the end, which everybody always likes to see. For sure, if you look at how far apart the package we ran today is and what the Xfinity cars ran yesterday, how much really different was the racing, I wouldn't say a whole lot different. I thought today's race went well, and we'll just see what the future brings.

Q. Still looks like clean air is kind of dominant, though, especially as opposed to fresher tires. I know you found out yesterday how good you guys were on the scuffs; did that eliminate any doubt that you had when it was time to make that decision, or was the history of this place still lingering in your mind?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I was a little bit nervous at first to be honest. Only four of us stayed out, I was like, oh, gosh, they are going to be four. We'll be fifth; that's a good spot to be in. So I was a little worried about that, but once we fired off and I seen the lap times and I knew what my car felt like, I initially was like, oh, we're good, we've got them. It's game over. Yeah, I mean, clear air, it is what it is. We're going 205 miles an hour going into Turn 1. If you show me a world where we can go 205 and air doesn't matter, then you're going to surprise a lot of people, and it's kind of like change the face of the earth, so to speak. I mean, it just doesn't happen. Yes, clean air is important. Unless we go 80 miles an hour, clean air is going to be important.

Q. Sherry was more emotional today about being here. Can you talk about your reaction to that?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, it was awesome. I think more than anything, she's happy she just picked the right one to come to. You know, she wasn't in California because I stayed out west on the West Coast Swing, and she just didn't want to do all the traveling and stuff, just trying to stay home and relax and focus on her health and all that stuff. Yeah, it was definitely awesome to have her back here. It's the first win of the year with her here, and glad she was able to celebrate it with us. I know the team was excited to see her here in Victory Lane with us. It's always special.
We've got a fun couple weeks coming up. I've been like just going crazy the last couple weeks with a lot of things and haven't been home, I think, maybe two days in the last three weeks. Making our annual Michigan trip from here and going up there to enjoy some cool weather and hanging out with some friends and doing a little fishing, so yeah, it was cool that she was here today and now we get a little time to celebrate it this coming week, and then going into our off weekend after Michigan.

Q. This is where you got your first win for the team back in 2015. You said Shea was here. Seems like a really special place for you, one of your home tracks‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: One of them, yeah.

Q. Does your career with the 78 team really seem to come full circle when you come back here?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, that's a good question. You know, I think more than anything‑‑ I have tracks that I have really fond memories of and memories coming to as a kid that were really instrumental in giving me that racing bug or making me want to be a driver or just follow in love with the sport in general. So this is definitely one of those tracks because of the fact that I came here at such a young age and watched race cars here.
With that being said, I mean, for us, I think as a team, for whatever reason since we got together, it's been a great track for us. You look at 2015 we were able to win and kind of surprised a lot of people the way we did it, and that season in general, the way we were running, we were probably overachieving for where we were in the sport and our equipment and things like that.
2016 I felt like both races here we had the car to beat, and I think we had a flat tire once. I'm not sure what happened the other time, but just in general we've always for whatever reason been really good here, and it's always fun when you have success at a place you love coming to. I love this area. I have a lot of friends and family that come to this race to see us, and I've got a lot of friends from this area. I go fishing Friday and Saturday after practice, and it's just a cool area and I love coming up here. Any time you can connect those two, it's always special, and for that reason, this ranks up there as one of our favorite tracks at Furniture Row Racing.

Q. What are your plans for the off week?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I'm going to stay in Michigan. We're going to Michigan tonight. I'll be fishing all week. Like I said, I've had a couple busy‑‑ just busy weeks, really three, where I haven't had a day off, and it's been pretty crazy. Charlotte, it's like, yeah, you're going home to race at Charlotte. Oh, no. We have more to do there than ever. But get a couple days off this week, and that's going to be fun‑‑ we're going to Michigan from here, like I said, and I'll actually ride down from northern Michigan in the motor home to the racetrack Thursday night and then go through the weekend and then ride back up to northern Michigan in the motor home after the race in Michigan, and we'll stay up there the whole week through the off weekend. Love going up there in the summertime, great weather, cool weather, get out of the humidity, and some great fishing holes up there. We've got some friends up there that we've known a long time, we spend time with, and just go up there and kind of do some camping. It's a lot of fun, so looking forward to it.

Q. I asked Cole this question: Do you guys focus more week to week, or do you look at the bigger picture over the championship and how those two intertwine?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I think for us it's week to week. We see where we're at, what we need to work on, what direction we need to head in. Lately we've had a real focused approach on the things we know we've been fighting to try and get better, and we've just continued to inch down that road and chip away at it, and I feel like we've been making progress. For us it's week to week for sure. Go week to week, you try to evaluate where you're at, and you're always trying to be out there winning races or challenging to win, and obviously you want to be at the top of your game when them last 10 races come.
But if you continue week to week and just try to get better all the time and understand your strengths and weaknesses, it's a big help to that, so I think that's the best approach.

Q. Martin, you said it's been crazy the last few weeks with other sports. Here you are six months later still on your victory tour. It hasn't necessarily shown in the results. Are you feeling the effects of being on the go, or are these just two‑‑ the celebrations too much of a good thing?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No, I mean, I'm good. I'm pretty happy with what's going on. It's always nice to have a day or two off a week, but sometimes you can't always get that. Honestly, as crazy as it's been, it's been a lot of fun. I've gotten to do a lot of cool stuff. Going to the White House two weeks ago was amazing and to get to meet the President and get the tour and the way he treated our team really made us feel special, and just kind of reminded us of how big a deal it is to win a championship in this sport. So that was really cool.
And then I went to the New Jersey capitol this week and got a proclamation that it was Martin Truex Jr. Day in New Jersey. You think about those things, and on the one hand, it's work, but on the one hand, it's not, it's just keeping you busy. We've been on the go a lot, but it's all been fun stuff, and it's stuff that's been like things that you never thought could possibly happen, if you go back ten years or five years even. Been very lucky. It's been a lot of fun along the way, but at the same time, I'm ready to kind of have a few days off, and it's going to be awesome to be in Michigan and have a little time to play.

Q. You had two wins at this point last season. Do you feel any‑‑ you're ahead of last year, the same?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You know, I don't really‑‑ I haven't really thought about it much. I haven't really compared it. I feel really good, honestly. I feel like throughout the week, every single weekend this year, I've felt like we can show up and win. You know, and in this sport, as tough as it is and as competitive as it is, that's really what you look for. Any time you're in a situation like that, I think you're in a good place. It changes fast. Things change quick. You never know what's coming in a few weeks. If you can go through parts of the season feeling that, it's always a good place to be, and I feel that way now. Hopefully we can keep it going, but you never know. We're going to work hard to try to do it.

Q. You talked about how last year things almost kind of came easy, and you basically show up and win. This year it's been a little bit more of a struggle. Does that make it a little bit more rewarding when you get a win today because you had to work a little harder for it? I'm not saying you didn't work hard last year, but it just kind of happened as opposed to working it make it happen?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I think more than anything it's a reminder of how difficult this sport is, especially at this level and how difficult racing is in general and how many things can bite you when you least expect it, I guess. So yeah, it's been‑‑ it's always, I guess, good to have that reminder, and it helps you to remember how special it is to win, how important they are, and how much they mean to the team and what it takes. I've got an amazing team, and they never cease to amaze me. Hopefully we can keep it up.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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