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May 26, 2019

Martin Truex, Jr.

Charlotte, North Carolina

THE MODERATOR: We've now been joined by our race winner, driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Tracker ATV and Boat USO Toyota. That may be the longest sponsor here tonight for the Coca‑Cola 600. But congratulations, Martin, your third win of the 2019 season, now your third here win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Talk a little bit about that win tonight and taking home your second Coca‑Cola 600.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, it was definitely a tough race. It was a heck of a battle. I thought early on in the race we were really strong, obviously, and felt like running away with that first stage, and 75 laps in or something like that, we were kind of checking out and then just blew a right front tire out of nowhere and hit the fence and thought, oh, man‑‑ it felt like our race was going to be over at that point. I hit the wall pretty good and had damage and had tire rubs and all that.
Just never gave up on it, kept working and kept fighting, and by like lap 250 or so, we got it dialed back in to where it was pretty good. Pretty amazing really, to see the car after the race; it looks like we raced the damned thing at Martinsville. So I don't know, I'm just kind of amazed and kind of speechless. But thanks to my team, they did a great job. We never gave up on it and kept working and kept tweaking, and the last 100, 150 laps it was really good. Just thankful for all of them for the hard work, and we've got an awesome race team, and now that we've got some momentum here and a little confidence on the mile‑and‑a‑half, that's a really good sign for us moving forward.
So just overall a really good week for us, and I felt good going into the race, and it's nice to kind of back that up. Feels good, and pretty awesome weekend to win.

Q. Take us through the pass. What were you thinking before as you were coming to the line? Did you execute it the way you wanted to? Just take us through what happened there.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: What pass?

Q. The one at the end, on the restart, the four wide.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, so you know, the final restart we‑‑ first of all, I hated to see the caution because we were just strolling away with it. But I saw‑‑ you just never know in these things. The 6 had two tires, the 38 had none, and we were sitting third on four. You know, I just basically knew that whoever got out front first with four tires was probably going to win with a four‑lap shootout.
It's just‑‑ you don't have enough time to get around somebody really unless‑‑ if it gets single file at all. The leader had a big advantage tonight I felt like, and any time we could get out front we could just drive away from them. At that point it was just, all right, just try to get your lane going. Newman is a good friend of mine, and he started in front of me, and I just tried to shove him as good as I could to get our line going.
With this package you just‑‑ you've got to get the momentum going with your line. You can't just pull out and make it three wide or make a big move like that because if the outside lane stays tight in line, they're going to just drive away from you. So I just tried to get our line going, just like we were pretty even going into 1, the inside, the outside lane. I was just pushing Ryan, pushing Ryan, pushing Ryan trying to get him going, and we came off of 2 and somehow they got three wide on that front row, and at that point those three guys just kind of stalled out, and I had just enough momentum. I just yanked it left and said, here's my chance. There was a hole to go there, and I had just enough of a run to clear a few of them getting into 3 and then off of 4 I was just able to sneak up in front of the 22. I mean, by like a quarter of an inch. Literally as soon as I got almost straight he was on my bumper and I was sideways. Barely, barely fit there.
But it just worked out. We had an amazing car, but we could do that same restart four more times and lose all four of them. It's all momentum. It's all just the lane you're in, the way you time it. It just worked out.
You just never know, and I'm just thankful that we were able to get it done tonight because we had a great race car. We had the best car at the end, so you hate to lose them in that situation.

Q. Obviously early in the race the damage and stuff, so you bring it home to Victory Lane, is it a driver or is it a crew chief? Is it the perfect combination? What was going through your head as you were getting faster in the race with a damaged car?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I didn't know how bad it was. All I knew is how hard I fit the fence. I was like, normally you hit it like that, it's going to be a long day, know what I'm saying? I didn't know, I just kept telling Cole what I needed, what the car was doing, and he just kept swinging at it. You know, the first couple stops after the damage, we were pretty bad. We stayed out at one point to try to get a little track position back, and we were just plowing tight, and we fell back, I think, to 16th or 17th or something on that one run where we stayed out on older tires and guys had tires, and it was like, you've got to take a bigger swing at it, you know.
At that point I didn't know that we could ever get it going. I was just telling them what it was doing. I'm like, it's still just plowing tight, just keep trying. And they ‑‑ finally we got to a point around ‑‑ I want to say it was around lap 200 where we actually got on the other side of it and got too loose, and I was like, okay, maybe we do have a chance because we were pretty quick that run, and just tuned on it from there. So I don't know. Honestly, I don't know what it was. Maybe it's this package.
But I know that we tweak and go to the wind tunnel and we do these tiny little changes in practice to give away‑‑ for the drag downforce deal. It's like, do you want more downforce, do you want less drag. They just tweak little tiny things that you can't even see, and that thing, like I said, looked like we raced it at Martinsville. It was bashed. The whole right side was flat. It was all beat up.
I don't know, I'm‑‑ maybe I'll hit the wall again, I don't know. Know what I'm saying? But just pretty amazed really.

Q. How do you feel after 600 miles? Does it feel like you've exerted yourself quite a bit? Does it feel different than 500 miles, or is it just kind of normal?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No, I feel good. My workout program really works, and I feel awesome. I have a little bit of a headache and I had to go to the bathroom, obviously. That's where I went. I hadn't peed since 5:00. That's the No.1 question we get asked by the fans: What do you do if you have to go to the bathroom in the car. So I mean, I'm just letting NASCAR know, all the NASCAR fans out there know that I held it until‑‑ is this watch on time? Is it 10 minutes to 1:00? So my trophy watch is even set.
But yeah, I held it for seven hours‑‑ six hours and 50 minutes. See if anybody else here can do that. After drinking like four gallons of water. That's how I feel awesome. (Laughs.)

Q. Martin, when Cole was in earlier he talked about how you guys as a team and you as a driver have had to make adjustments to be‑‑ to find your competitive way with this rules package. I just wondered for you as the driver, has it been a difficult process to get accustomed to finding what you need to be competitive on the track, and are you having to do things that you've been unaccustomed to doing before?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, to answer your question, man, I think that's kind of‑‑ I had a media session this week, and that's kind of what I talked about is that it's definitely been difficult for me, and I think for us as a team. It's just so different than what we've been doing for the last couple years. With the success we've had, it's hard to change. It's hard to say, hey, we can't keep doing that stuff we were doing before. So we had to look at it‑‑ we had to look at it all differently, and I think our guys are‑‑ Cole and James and them and our engineers, everybody is really, really smart, and I just kind of buy into whatever they think, whatever direction they think we need to go. I just continue to give them input, and my opinion on things, and we just do I feel like a good job of communicating and working together.
I can take criticism from them and vice versa without getting upset or getting our feelings hurt. We just kind of go in there and lay it out, lay it all on the table.
I always‑‑ for me I know when I did a good job because they tell me, and I know that they are smart enough to know if I did a good job or not, so it means a lot when they say it, like tonight. But yeah, to answer your question, it's definitely been tough. It's been a lot different, and I've had to change a lot of things in the way I drive the car and the way the car feels and all those type of things. We just had to be open and honest and continue to work on it. It's been a challenge.

Q. What happened when you got into the back of the lap car, and did it cause any additional damage to your car?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I'm not sure on damage. You know, he gave me the bottom going into 1 and ran in the middle, which was where the VHT ‑‑ pretty much the only place the VHT was still a little bit sticky was in the middle of 1 and 2, the middle groove. Everybody was running there. That's really where I wanted to run. I was super, super tight at that point and he gave me the very bottom, and I went down there and got kind of beside him and then I just lost the nose. It just took off pushing and I let off the throttle and it just shot up the track and barely clipped his left rear. I hated to do that, obviously. It was definitely not intentional.
Just one of those things where the bottom lane on those long runs in 1 and 2 got so slick. Like you'd just go down there and make it halfway around the corner and you think you're doing good and all of a sudden that thing would just take off to the right. Yeah, that's what happened there. I don't understand why you asked me that, though. What's the point? I was just curious. Like that was a big deal in the race or something?

Q. I wasn't sure whether you (indiscernible)‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No, I didn't do it. The 2 car did at the end. Tell me that wasn't a little strange. Yeah. Never mind. I'm not even going to go there. But no, it was an accident totally. If you look at my data, you'll see I just lifted and was like cranked to the left and went straight.

Q. Martin, with this race, Richmond earlier this year and Martinsville last year, going head to head with Joey Logano, after a trilogy of close finishes like that, what is your assessment of Joey Logano when it comes to a head‑to‑head situation like you've been with him now three times?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I think he's a tough competitor, a guy that's tough to beat. He's always up front. So yeah, he's a great driver, and him and his team do a great job of being in position to win races. Those are the kind of guys you like to beat, so it feels good to win tonight against him.

Q. Coach was saying a little bit earlier how there was so much going on in this race it was almost sort of hard to keep track of. How do you compare this one to the one in '16? And is one or the other more gratifying for whatever reason?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I mean, they're both really big wins. I don't know how to put that one, but definitely way crazier tonight. I mean, '16 was just like lights out. It just was like‑‑ just kind of going through the motions. Everything went perfectly. Everything went exactly the way we needed it to, and that's why we were able to lead so many laps. Tonight was a challenge to say the least. Again, I never thought after we hit the fence and had that flat, I never thought that we would have a shot at winning until probably halfway through the race, and then I was like, ooh, we've got a chance again. I can't really believe it, but hey, this is cool.
So it's always fun to win races that are like that. I mean, those‑‑ I've never hit the fence and won a race before, so it's cool the first time. That's like hero stuff. So it was pretty cool to be able to do that. You watch other guys do it, you're like, how the hell did they do that? The car is destroyed. So that's pretty cool, I think, and that's why when I seen the car in Victory Lane, I was like, dang, man, that thing is beat all to hell. It's pretty cool to be able to win one like that. I've never done that before.

Q. Martin, you alluded to it earlier, but what were you feeling throughout the race with the PJ1 compound and from the start of the race all the way to the end, what were you feeling out there on the track?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, it definitely changed a lot. I would say that the track never really gripped up much after it got dark, which kind of‑‑ I think everybody kind of expected it to. I felt like it didn't. I felt like the PJ1, especially in 3 and 4, NASCAR tests the track and tests the‑‑ somehow they think they can figure out how much grip is in what lane and this and that, and they said that 3 and 4 was supposed to have more grip than 1 and 2, and I felt like it was the opposite. I felt like 3 and 4 was slicker than even last weekend, and the PJ1 just seemed like it was almost nonexistent. It felt like it was there just a little bit early in the race and then just was gone.
But 1 and 2 it kind of stayed I felt like a little bit better. So I don't know, it's hard to say. The track never really changed a whole lot, I don't think, but the PJ1 definitely I felt like lost some grip, and the bottom of 3 and 4 got to where it was pretty much the best place to run. 1 and 2 in the PJ1 was definitely the best place to run, especially on the long runs. I don't know, kind of weird. A little bit different than everybody expected, I think.

Q. Martin, when Cole and Coach were in here earlier, they were talking about‑‑ I asked them about the transition from Furniture Row now to the 19 team. How do you feel like the transition has been? Has it been as seamless as you hoped it would be?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Oh, yeah, for sure. It's been really good. I mean, obviously to be sitting here halfway through the regular season with three wins is a big deal, and I feel at home there. I feel like I'm part of the team, and I know the way things work and I know what they expect of me, and I'm really comfortable being myself.
Just really have been having fun. It's a lot of work. It's a big challenge to win races at this level, but I've definitely really enjoyed it, and looking forward to hopefully just continuing to do what they brought me there to do.

Q. And in regards to the car, I know you guys were chasing it after you tagged the wall there in the first stage, but it seemed like it really also kind of came to life when the sun went down and the lights came on. Do you feel like the track changed from day tonight, or was that something you could tell?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You know, after we hit the wall the car changed so drastically that I really don't know how to answer your question. I don't really know how it changed because that‑‑ just that one lap changed our car so drastically that it took us, like I said earlier, probably 125 laps, literally, it was like around lap 75 when we hit the fence and it was probably 200 or so‑‑ halfway through the race before we got it close again. So I really don't know. I think it was just‑‑ I felt like if we didn't have that flat tire and hit the fence that it would have been like 2016 again. I mean, it was that good before that happened.
With that said, I would have a better answer for you if we didn't hit the fence. I really don't know how the track changed.

Q. Martin, you earned your third win at the Charlotte oval tonight, and a few weeks ago you earned your third win at Dover. Do you consider one of them to be your best track?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Oh, that's a good question. I think they've both been good for us over the years, especially the last few. I consider them two of the most challenging and difficult tracks we go to, and so for those two to be where I've won the most races of my career, that's really cool because they're tough tracks and you want to win at the places that are really hard and really difficult.
With that said, I would say that even though this is asphalt and that's concrete and that's a mile and this is a mile‑and‑a‑half and all the differences that there are some similarities in the feel of the car and just the roughness of the racetrack and those kind of things that maybe that's kind of played into it a little bit.

Q. We've had this new package for a little while now, and I think we've seen the best of its abilities tonight and in Kansas. Do you have any pros to the package that you like more than last year or anything that you don't like more than last year?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don't really get paid to have an opinion. I get paid to win.
It's still difficult in traffic. They drive awful in traffic, I'll be honest, and I don't know how we fix that. It's all about restarts and pit stops. That's really what it is. Once you get out front, you're gone. Luckily for us, our car was fast enough when we got out front tonight, we could hold them off. But it's really difficult to pass. It's really difficult in traffic. I don't know.
I guess at the end of the day, it's really‑‑ it really doesn't matter what I think. It matters what the fans think and what NASCAR and what everybody thinks of the show and what they think of the racing. I'm just glad that we've been able to win with this package because I know we're going to have it for a while and just try to run with that momentum.

Q. I want to ask you about the moment of silence that we had during the race because I know I've been around the sport for over 30 years and I don't think I've ever seen or felt anything quite like that at a racetrack, and I'm curious what that was like for you from the driver's point of view. Were you able to sort of detach from the race thoughts long enough to really feel that and experience that? What was that like for you?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You know, I think for us in the car, it wasn't‑‑ it was hard to tell really what was going on. You're so focused. We've been out there for, I don't know, three hours or something already. Honestly for us it was just time to take a break, and I just kind of closed my eyes for a minute and tried to relax. Yeah, I don't really know. It just was kind of a break. I don't know that I even thought much about what was going on. It's hard to say. You're so in the zone and thinking about all the stuff in the race and your head is spinning. It just felt like kind of a red flag type situation to me.

Q. 12 years ago you won at Dover, your first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race with Bass Pro as your sponsor. Tonight you brought home another victory, 12 years later with them, they've been with you much of your career. What does it mean to have that kind of support from Johnny Morris and his team at Bass Pro?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, I was definitely happy he was here tonight. He's one of the funnest people ever to be around in general, but in Victory Lane it's really special. It was really cool to get to do the interview on FOX on the race broadcast from Victory Lane and have him with me on my side and he had a special message for everybody. He's a special guy, and to see his enthusiasm and his love of our country and telling stories about his dad and being in the military and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and all those things, he's a special guy. So I'm very fortunate to call him a friend. He's supported my racing career for a long, long time, and honestly, without him, there's no way I'd be sitting here.
Very special to have him here this weekend, and I'm glad he came to the race. He kept asking me, we won in the Auto Owners car, we won in the Sirius XM car, and he's like, every time you've got blue on your car you win. So he texted me this week, how's that blue working out, because we had the red, white and blue paint scheme. It's just awesome to have his support and his support of his company and all the people that work for Bass Pro and Cabela's and just a special guy.

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