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June 24, 2018

Martin Truex, Jr.

Sonoma, California

THE MODERATOR: We are joined now by our race winner, Martin Truex Jr. Congratulations. Take us through the last 10 laps of the race.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: The last 10 laps of the race were easy. A little stressful. I was just hoping for no cautions because we had a big lead. It's funny when you get in those situations‑‑ this place is so tricky and so technical, but when you start to take care of your equipment and have time to think, it almost gets harder. You know, so it's like, all right, just put laps together, let's not make a mistake. If you let your guard down too much here, you can over‑shoot a corner real easy. So I just tried to back down my pace slightly, enough to make sure I wasn't going to hurt any parts of my car, no chances of locking up a tire or breaking a tranny or going off course or anything like that. But I still ran as hard as I thought I needed to.
It's a little stressful when you're in those situations because you never know what's going to happen, but it all worked out, and pretty cool to get the win here today after last year. We thought a lot about that race last year, losing it, and it hurt. We left here and thought about it for a long time. To be able to come here and get it back was nice.

Q. Did you know that Cole and the crew were such good actors to be able to pretend like they were calling you in to pit when they actually weren't?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, we're in California. They went to acting school this week. They were in LA for a couple days on the off weekend learning how to do screenplays and such.

Q. So are you in the car and he calls you in and he says, okay, stay out and he calls you in, are you like, what is he doing, what the hell is going on, or did you understand that they were trying something or did you have just no idea?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I just drove the car. That's what I do. Cole and I have a great relationship. I never question him when he's calling races, and when he has things going on when he's talking to me in the car, it's just, okay‑‑ it's yes or no answers for me. So yeah, he told me to pit, and I was like, okay, I'm going to pit, and then he said, don't pit, so I'm like, fine, I'm just going to stay out.
I realized once the 4 pitted for a lap‑‑ I guess it was a half a lap or a lap before, he said we were going to run nine more, I knew the situation I was in sort of because any time somebody pits before you at a track like this, you know you're going to be on older tires, so I was just like, okay, let's just maximize‑‑ I want to maximize the time I lose by not making any mistakes, making sure I get everything I can every lap, and if I catch traffic, make sure I time it right and get by him. But yeah, so it worked out good. But when he said pit and then stay out, I wasn't sure what was going on to be honest. I just did what he said. Apparently it was a bigger deal going on because everybody keeps asking me about it, so I'll have to watch the race broadcast and look at Twitter.

Q. I mean, we never see people get snookered, but usually when people win races on pit road it's not like that.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Hey, you guys are slick, man.

Q. Last time you won, and there's been some years between there and here, and it's been a bit of an adventure for you. Any thoughts on that last win and what it's meant to you to win this time?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: The last one here?

Q. Yes, sir.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I'll be honest with you; I remember that win like it was yesterday. It was huge. I really feel like I treat every win the same as I did that day. You never know when your last one is going to be. I went through a lot between my first win in my career and that first win here, and so I really had a completely different outlook, I guess, from my first one to that one, and I think since that one I've really felt the same on all of them, that I feel really privileged, really blessed and really lucky to be in the position I'm in for a lot of reasons. You never know what's going to happen tomorrow even, so I try to live in the moment as best I can and enjoy as much as I can. People asked where does this win rank. It's hard to rank them because they're all so special, and I know how hard they are to get.
This is a huge win. Road courses are something that everybody in the garage wants to win in a big way, and to be able to win here twice and to win at both the road courses has been pretty awesome for me, and it's kind of a feather in the cap for a stock car driver to get those, and definitely proud of it.

Q. Martin, this is the first time in 31 years that the Cup Series has seen three road courses on the schedule. How do you feel about that direction with NASCAR adding more road courses to the schedule?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Oh, I'm fine with it. I enjoy them. I think it's fun. It's fun to do something different. You know, the fact that we build two plus road course cars for two tracks definitely makes sense budget‑wise for the teams to be able to run more of them. Aside from that, I just enjoy them. I think it's fun for us as drivers to do something different than the typical ovals, and I think the fans really enjoy them, as well. It puts on a great show. It's really fun. It's really challenging. Our cars are‑‑ these cars aren't really built for this kind of racetrack, and it's quite the challenge, but that's what makes it fun, and I think that's why all the drivers enjoy it, so I'd be fine with it. Not sure how the Roval is going to go, so to speak.
I think there's a lot of question marks about that still and where we land on tires and things like that for it, but one thing is for sure is it's going to be exciting. Hopefully the fans enjoy it and we can make it part of our regular schedule.

Q. You're obviously going to be part of the championship race again. I know none of this is easy, but having been there last year and done that, does that give you a better shot this year? You sort of know what to expect and so forth?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I mean, we've been hitting it the last three years really. 2015 we made the Final Four and '16 we had kind of a heartbreaking playoffs and then last year, of course, we had kind of the dream come true. We've been, I guess, kind of on all sides of it, which I think doesn't hurt, but at the same time, it doesn't really make you perform. I think it keeps you in the right frame of mind. It keeps you from getting stressed out. I think more than anything, our guys understand what it takes, what kind of cars we need to build, and what kind of approach we need to take to be prepared for it.
But when it starts, if you're not running good or you're not fast enough, it's hard for your mindset or your experience to take over and make it all happen. We need to be‑‑ we need to make sure we're performing well at that point in the season and the guys are working hard to make sure we can do that. That's the most important thing. We'll see what we can do.

Q. I was looking at the cars when they came in, and they're amazingly clean compared to road races here in the past. Any close calls out there for one? And number two, do you think everybody is just getting better at road racing than they were?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I would say‑‑ to answer your second question first, I would say yes, I think the entire field is definitely better as a whole group. You come back to this track year after year. You have the Xfinity guys run more road courses today than they have. Even the trucks run road courses now. They go to Canada. I think the K&N guys go to road courses, ARCA goes to road courses.
I think just in general stock car racing you come up with more road course experience today than you did say‑‑ before I did. When I first started it was very limited, early 2000s, back in the '90s. I feel like since then, all those series in the ladder system with all the road courses and these kids getting all this road course experience I think plays a big part in that. The fact that most of the field has experience at itdoesn't mean they're going to be really good at it, but at least they're going to stay on the track all day and not really make big mistakes and make big crashes and things like that.
The other thing is we didn't have a lot of cautions. Typically here cautions breed cautions. Restarts here are insane. They're very crazy. We've seen that in the past where if we get a late caution you may have two or three or four in a row. So the fact that everybody played the stage breaks and we had clean restarts after that I think is a big part of that reason.

Q. How good do you feel about repeating the championship this year?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I feel pretty good about it. I feel like we're in a good position, and I've been asked this the last really couple weeks, I guess. When we won Pocono I was asked the same thing. I feel good. I feel great about where we're at. We're doing the right things. Hard to say right now, honestly. We've got a great team. Obviously we did it last year. But that's no guarantee. There's other teams that have stepped up and there's a lot of fast guys out there. Takes a lot to go through the playoffs, and the elimination format is really just tough. One bad race and you can find yourself on the outside looking in like we were in '16 even though you're strong and you run good. You've just got to be fast, you've got to be consistent. Hopefully we can continue to build up some more playoff bonus points. That's always a key, I think, just so you have something to fall back on if you do have a bad race. Last year we had a pile of them, and we didn't even need them. I wish we could have just carried them over since we didn't use them. Maybe we need to talk about that.
But definitely want to get some of those just in case. I mean, something to fall back on would be nice. So gaining them today was nice, so hopefully we'll continue to gain a few as much as possible.

Q. I was here on your last win, and I came up on the fence and gave you a high five‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I appreciate that. That was cool, thank you.

Q. As the whole scenario was playing out, at first we didn't know if you guys had a code or Cole had asked you to pit‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You already asked me that.

Q. Cole said that you guys don't use codes or anything like some teams do because you guys aren't smart enough to remember what they are pretty much‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: That's right, yeah.

Q. Is that accurate? Do you prefer not to have codes‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, no codes. It's a recipe for disaster because we've seen it before, guys have codes and then they call it out and the guy is like, what the hell, I thought it was the other way, and they screw up. So we don't do that. We do what we do, and we tell each other what's going on, and we play off that. Today it was obviously a little bit different, but they had some insight that I didn't know about. Yeah, they played off of that.

Q. Martin, now as we go into the month of July, you used to have a lot of tracks like Kentucky and Daytona. Obviously going forward it's going to be an intense battle between you and Kevin and Kyle. Notably with Harvick, when you beat Harvick, how do you feel exactly when you beat him when he's at his peak right now?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I think that's a good question. I think we feel great when we beat him, not only him but his whole team. They do an amazing job and they're great competitors. They've got a really good group of guys that are going to be tough to beat all season long. Yeah, any time you can beat those guys, it feels good. But just racing with him is fun. Today we played a little cat and mouse early in the race and went back and forth, and felt like he was a little stronger than us first stage, maybe the second stage, and then we got a lot better in the third stage and felt like before he pitted that last time we were actually starting to catch him.
Without the strategy, it was going to be a hell of a battle, I think, but just to race with those guys is awesome. Rodney and Kevin are amazing and they do a great job. Fun racing with them, and when you come out on top, you know you beat the best.

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