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October 27, 2019

Martin Truex, Jr.

Ridgeway, Virginia

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our race winner Martin Truex Jr. If you just want to open up talking about this big win and advancing to Homestead.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, sure, yeah. Just really happy about it, obviously. Been trying to work on getting a Martinsville win for a long time. It's a tough track. It's one that, you know, everybody I think wants to win at, the history here, and it's such a big part of NASCAR. Really proud of everybody on our team for what they did and the car they brought, the pit stops today were incredible and the guys did a great job. So just all around a great day. To lead that many laps is pretty incredible here.
Big day, big win, and I think Homestead is the bonus. So here we go, we'll see if we can win another championship.

Q. You had not won at a short track before this year but you were good at short tracks. What turned and clicked and made it just so that you could do it?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don't know, to be honest with you. You look at‑‑ we won here, we won at Richmond twice. You look at how many races at Richmond we should have won in the past few years, yeah, Bristol we haven't been that great, but we've been close, and then here, third last year, I guess, leading coming into the last set of corners. Yeah, I mean, I guess sometimes it's your day, you know? It's your time, and we work hard, we put everything into it, and sometimes things work the way you want them to, sometimes they don't. This year they went the way we needed them to, and here we are.

Q. Would you rough someone up for the win?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: We don't have to talk about that, do we?

Q. Martin, can you talk about‑‑ I heard a little comment that you made on NBC after the race about the intensity and how it's never been this intense. Can you just talk to that a little bit and try to explain to the fans and folks like us what that intensity feels like?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I mean, I could try but I'm not that good at it, to be honest. It's hard to explain. Without being on that track, it's hard to feel what guys are putting on the line and how hard they're driving their cars and all those type of things. I mean, I just feel like every year I've been in this playoff format it's gotten more difficult. It's gotten‑‑ it just seems like every year somehow people turn up the intensity even more, and I don't know how that's possible. I think this year some of it's the rules package, and especially on some of the bigger tracks with the four and five wide restarts and things like that that play into what we're doing. Just feel like there's a lot more intensity. There's a lot more on the line anymore, I guess.

Q. At what point this year did you‑‑ if you had any sort of doubt whether you could win a championship at Gibbs, were you like‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I never had any doubt.

Q. From day one you knew that‑‑ did you have any doubt during the season at all that‑‑

Q. ‑‑ you might not be in this position?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Nope. I wouldn't have went there if I didn't think I could win a championship. I would have retired.

Q. You made me forget my other question.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: So I did awesome. (Laughter.)

Q. Have the playoffs been any different being with Gibbs than they were two years ago when you made your championship run with Furniture Row?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, it's a good question. I think for me, no. I feel‑‑ I don't really feel much different about it. I think the cool thing about it was we had‑‑ when we were at Furniture Row, the first year we had an alliance with RCR. The second year when we won the championship in the 17 we had the alliance with JGR. It feels a little different because we were kind of like the outsiders in at Gibbs, and now we have all those people there pulling for us and wanting us to do good. So it's a little bit different I think from that perspective. But for me‑‑ that's all team stuff. That's for Cole to deal with and the crew guys and the pit crew and all that stuff. For me, I don't really feel like it's any different. I do the same job now as I did then, I just have a lot more people to know their names during the week and thank. So it's a little bit different. But at the end of the day, it doesn't change a lot for me.

Q. One thing I want to ask you is how does it feel, you won the race, you should be getting the attention, but all of TV is talking about the fight.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: That's fine. That's cool, that's fine, whatever.

Q. You said you don't give a damn on NBC.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don't. I'm glad I'm not fighting. I'm glad I won. Not only‑‑ honestly not only‑‑ it's really not only about going to Homestead for me. This is a huge win for me personally. This is huge. I was so mad‑‑ part of the reason I was so mad last year wasn't because of Homestead. I felt like we could still get there, and we did. I wanted to win this race. I wanted to win at Martinsville because it's been so tough for me. The first couple times I came here, we were terrible. I mean, awful. I seen Bono yesterday who used to be my crew chief, Kevin "Bono" Manion, and we talked about how bad we ran here the first couple times just yesterday.
You know, for me it's just a personal thing. You want to be able to win everywhere. You want to be able to conquer all the things that you say I need to figure that out. To finally get it here, it just feels good. So Homestead, yeah, it's awesome, but standing here today, the win here and taking that grandfather clock home is even bigger to me.

Q. Where are you going to put it?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: In my living room. You'll be able to see it as soon as you walk in the front door. I've actually looked at that spot before and thought, that grandfather clock would look good right there.

Q. Obviously you had an extremely fast car, but this was a track position race. I think there were three lead changes. Did you feel like once you got up front you could just control it because of the fact that it seemed like aero was a factor in guys trying to get around people?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You know, early on I wasn't sure, and then we led some and I was like, okay, it's pretty good. Guys, they're hanging around. But I didn't know if we'd be able to keep the car the way‑‑ if we'd be able to keep up with the racetrack because I knew it was going to cool off and it was going to get dark. This place is notorious for changing with temperature as far as how the rubber goes down, how your car reacts, how your car handles. So I never really thought I was in control of anything. I just tried to keep doing what I was doing, keep telling them what the car was doing, if I needed to change something, and that was really it.
Heed the moment, I guess, you don't really think about those things, like I'm going to lead this whole race. It doesn't matter, right, until you do it. So you kind of just play it literally one lap at a time and one run at a time. As it kept going, I was like, damn, nobody is still catching us, and we'd do another run, and it was cooling off, how much is it going to change here, and then we could still pull away. Each time I was a little bit more amazed at how good things were going, but I never really thought about it more than that, to be honest.

Q. And speaking of how good things are going, I don't know if you've looked at the points, but you guys are crushing everybody right now. You're 20 points up on Hamlin, you guys have been by far the best team. Now you're locked into Miami, but how do you approach the next two races? Cole said he feels like you guys could win both. It must be weird to sort of be in this situation where the grand prize is waiting out there in three weeks, but you still have maybe something to prove about how formidable you are here the next two weeks?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, that's a good question. I don't really know. We've never been in this position before. Every time we've made the Final Four we've pointed our way in. We've never won in this round, so it's new territory. It's good territory to be in, but honestly we can't change who we are. I said that earlier in the year when the playoffs started. You can't just go from the regular season to we're going to change our mindset for the playoffs. You race every week the same, just there's more on the line as you go down the road here. Yeah, we're going to go‑‑ I mean, obviously there's going to be a lot of effort put into our car for Homestead, which is probably already started, but now there will be a little bit of extra time for Cole and the guys to work on their thoughts and their plan. But we're going to go try to win the next two. Just like here, we've never won the next two tracks, and we want to, so here we go. We'll go see if we can do it. But if we don't, oh, well, it doesn't really matter.

Q. Is there a sense of pride you've been the best so far?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I mean, I don't know. Everybody wants to be the best here all the time, and so yeah, it feels great. It feels amazing to be doing this. I feel so lucky to have the team I have and drive for the team I do and have our sponsors and just‑‑ I'm really lucky to be doing what I'm doing, so I'm just enjoying it, having a blast, and hopefully it comes coming. But yeah, it feels damned good to be the best right now.

Q. Martin, tonight was your first win at Martinsville. Of the tracks you have yet to win on, do you feel there is one that owes you a win more than others?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I mean, I don't know that I believe any track owes you anything no matter what you've done there. But I would say that next week at Texas, we've been close there a bunch. We've led a bunch of laps at that racetrack, been real close, and we've got poles and all that kind of stuff there, as well. You know, I don't think any track owes you anything, but I feel strongly that we can go to Texas next weekend and compete for the win, and hopefully we'll be able to do that.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Hopefully we'll be able to do that.

Q. Martin, William Byron seemed to be the only guy who really could get to you much at all, and that was at the end of the race. I wondered if there was anything you thought he was doing that maybe the others had less success at trying, and if you had any concern that he might try something a little bit more sense he was kind of already out of the Homestead picture.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, my original thought was did they put Jeff Gordon back in that car because he was so good here. So I was like, damn, Jeff is giving him tips or something. Jeff was amazing here. So to see the 24 running that good was pretty cool, first off, and he did an amazing job. He's really good on restarts, and I felt like every time‑‑ even midway through the race when he got to second, there was a lot of times we were in tons of traffic and I kept looking back there and he was just hanging around. So he did a really good job of hanging around all day long, and then at the end, you know, I was just trying to get good restarts and make sure I could get a little bit of a gap. I knew he was hungry. I knew he's never won before, so I knew he was probably willing to do just about anything to get a win, and I just tried my best to try to get a little bit of a gap because I honestly didn't want him anywhere near me with two or three laps to go. That's all I was trying to do was just keep a little distance there, and luckily we were able to do that.

Q. Martin, are you the championship favorite at Homestead?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don't know. You tell me.

Q. You've got the stats‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It doesn't matter what I think. I'm going to go down there and try to win the race. That's my job. That's all I really care about, and that's all I think about.

Q. Do you think you have the car and everything to beat those guys?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Oh, of course I do. I think I have the best team, and I think we'll have a really good car for there, and we'll go try our best. That's what we do. It's one race. I mean, I don't know. Y'all can figure out who the favorites are.

Q. Martin, in these next two races, there could be a scenario where you're out there to win the race, and winning that race could prevent one of your teammates from moving on to Homestead. They could be your toughest competition if they were at Homestead, obviously, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch at the top of their games. Is that something that you would have to do to win a race to freeze them out, say you were at whether it's Texas or Phoenix and they're behind you and that kind of thing?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I mean, we're going to go race as hard as we can race, like I said. I mean, I wouldn't mind winning the next three. I mean, that's what we're going to try to do. That's what we get paid to do. That's our job is to try to win. Yeah, I mean, we're not going to let anybody win, if that's what you're asking. Doesn't matter who they are, teammates are not. We're not going to let anybody win. We're going to try our best, and hopefully we can get it done.

Q. Will there be any consideration at all given that you're already in if you can help them get in?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: We're not going to let anybody win.

Q. I've been thinking about Joey Logano's controversy; do you have any advice for him because every time he comes to Martinsville it's a fuss.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I've got no advice.

Q. Two of the guys that you could be potentially facing for the title are Hamlin and Logano, and they get in this scuffle post‑race. Do you know like when you're racing, can you see guys that you're like, oh, those two guys are racing each other harder because they were, and it's like‑‑ is that good for you if they're in the championship and they potentially have that in the back of their mind, or do you think driver forget about it?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I don't know. I think something like what happened today I think is‑‑ they're not going to give up their chance at a championship by worrying about what happened today if they get to Homestead. Certainly the next two weeks they'll be thinking about it when they're around each other. We'll have to wait and see what happens.

Q. This is the first race we've really had the transition tonight, legit night. We've had some finish in the dark here pretty good, but this is the first time with the lights at night. I asked Cole about the transition, and he was kind of noncommittal. He's like, there was a pretty big temp swing. Inside the car and we go from the hottest race in the last 15 years to darkness with cooler temperatures and humidity, did it really change the way the car handled?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It probably didn't change as much as I thought it was going to, to be honest with you, based on past experience here and even Saturday, yesterday in practice. You know, from morning practice to afternoon it changed big time. But I was surprised that it didn't really change that much, and I think that's just a credit to the guys keeping up with the track and keeping up with our adjustments, with the temperature change and staying on top of things.
So yeah, I mean, I was surprised how‑‑ like I said earlier, our car stayed so good the whole race. We made some adjustments early and then we were just doing really small stuff the rest of the way, so I was surprised by that.

Q. What kind of sense of pride do you take‑‑ this is your third straight year making it to Homestead and four out of five years. You've done it with two organizations but basically the same team. How good do you feel about what you've accomplished?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I feel great about it. I mean, because we've had a lot of different things in that time if you think about it, from teams to personnel to manufacturer, difference chassis, this and that. We've had a lot of different alliances and things. It's a big deal, I think. And rules changes, different cars, different styles. It's a lot to learn when they change those things. So for me personally, it means a ton.
Obviously the one constant in there really has been Cole and our relationship and what he brings to the table for me. You look over history and you look at the combinations of driver and crew chief and the success they were able to have together, and I never really knew what that was like until I got with Cole. So it's a lot. It means a ton. I love racing with him. He's a great guy, great leader, and he's put some great teams together for us over the years.
It's really cool to be a part of that, and yeah, hopefully we can just keep it going. That's the biggest thing. We're working hard on trying, and hopefully we can keep that going, but you never know.

Q. Have you ever seen him fight?

Q. He said he fights all the time‑‑
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I mean, in hockey maybe.

Q. You just mentioned having a lot to learn over these last few years. Do you approach a race different than you used to, or do you stay‑‑ do you approach one differently now than you used to as far as learning and studying?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I think it changes every year for sure, and especially the last two years since the SMT came out, NASCAR has all that data sharing deal. You can look and see what any driver in the field is doing at any point in time through the weekend. Somebody is doing something different or they're really fast, you can look and see what they're doing. So there's a lot more information available today than there was five years ago, and you just have to try to keep up with it all. That's one thing that's, again, Cole and my engineers, James, they really stay up on that stuff and keep me in the loop of what's going on and point me in the right direction on a lot of that kind of stuff and what I should be looking at and shouldn't be looking at. The more as we go down the road, the more things become available, the more you have to use them because if you're not using them and somebody else is, they're going to have an advantage. So yeah, you're constantly learning, you're constantly just trying to do everything you can to try to get better.

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