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August 8, 2020

Martin Truex, Jr.

Brooklyn, Michigan

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Martin Truex Jr., our third‑place finisher. We'll jump right into questions for you.

Q. You recovered early from a lost tire early on. How proud are you of the resilience of your team out there today?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Oh, definitely happy, proud of everybody, and just not giving up on it and really just battled back just like I did last week. You never like to have to go to the rear. For us it took us the first two stages we were trapped a lap down, so that was tough, but good obviously recovery in stage 3 to get to the front and stay there, and thought our Auto Owners Camry was really fast. Felt good about that, and hopefully we can make a few tweaks to it and be a little better tomorrow.

Q. What did you think of the choose rule today?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It was okay. I mean, it was interesting for sure to see kind of how it all played out there. I don't know that it changed the race a whole lot, but it was interesting for sure. We'll see how it plays out‑‑ we seen a lot of guys pick the outside, but a few guys were able to get the lead from the bottom, as well. Pretty interesting how it worked out, and definitely learned some stuff for tomorrow.

Q. Martin, in this race last year, drivers could catch the leader but they couldn't pass him. Today we saw a lot more passing for the lead. I asked Kevin about that and he mentioned that the application of PJ1 on the outside really created a third groove. Exactly how did you experience that, and how many options did you guys have in terms of different lanes?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It was definitely‑‑ I thought the racetrack was really good for sure. I mean, I don't know that we've seen a whole lot of passing for the lead other than he was obviously really, really fast. I thought the track was really good. Obviously the PJ1 lane gave us an option, but it wasn't just dominant to where everybody had the run there, which is what we've seen kind of in past races at certain tracks, like Kentucky and Texas and a few other places.
It was definitely a really good option, but it wasn't always the one place to be, and you had other options, as well, which that made the racing really good.

Q. Kevin actually said that with this current rules package and the racing surface today, he said that NASCAR is really close to getting the sort of racing that, quote‑unquote, everyone wants at Michigan. How do you feel about that? Do you agree with that?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I would agree with that. I think it's definitely a good step. We've seen a lot of passes for position today. And again, we had three good grooves on the racetrack where you could make some speed. I definitely thought it was a good race, and Michigan is a challenging place to put on good racing because the speeds are so high. Definitely thought it was a good day for everyone there, and it was a fun race, as well.

Q. The cut tire early on you apologized for over the radio, said it was your fault. How frustrating is it with these cars that you really can't even make the slightest bit of contact with someone for fear of that, and how much does that change just how aggressive drivers are because they know you can't really use these cars up?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, it's frustrating when you make such a small mistake and have to pay such a big consequence. But I would say that in general, I've been in that same situation many times, and I barely, barely, barely touched him on accident, obviously, and I must have just hit him in the perfect spot because it cut down my tire and then his.
Very, very slight contact, and it's frustrating for sure, but you look at all the restarts at the end, guys are banging into each other, and the front and rear bumpers are really strong, so you can use those. Really just side to side contact could be a big deal if you mess up like I did. Again, that was a mistake that really cost us a lot of stage points and Reddick, as well. So I hated that for him, that he was a victim of my mistake.
Yeah, I was surprised it happened really, really surprised. But fortunately we were able to overcome it.

Q. When you do something like that and you take responsibility for a mistake, do you feel like you then almost have to make it up to the team? Do you drive it any harder? Are you mad? What's it like when it's so early in the race and you're already behind the 8‑ball?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It's not fun. You know, you don't want to ever be the guy that screws up. Last week we had an issue on a pit stop, had a tire get away and had to go to the back for that.
We win, we lose together. We do this. Everybody makes mistakes from time to time, and whether it was last week with a pit stop issue or whether this week with me having contact on the track, you just fight and claw as hard as you can all day long. Until the race is over you're giving everything you can for your team, your sponsors, everybody involved. That's no different no matter the situation, what happened, it doesn't matter. You put it in the past and you move on.

Q. We saw on a couple different late restarts guys come from fifth, third, go to the inside with the choose rule and be able to hold it and get the lead for a brief time. Now that we're going back to the same track tomorrow in similar circumstances, do you think you might see more guys in second or third consider going straight down and trying it?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I do. I think‑‑ I think we definitely will. The hard part about it is if you are the guy that gets the front row, that's a pretty good spot. I just don't know that anybody really wants to be third because like what we've seen today, usually the guy that picked that third spot, which is the second row on the bottom, was fifth on back coming to the choose cone.
The problem with starting third is you have to try to push the guy in front of you, get him going, try to push him to the lead to give yourself a chance, and then you're stuck on the bottom by yourself off of 2 down the backstretch. It's just a really, really tough spot to be in. Obviously some guys made it work. I had one opportunity to try it and I didn't take it because I felt like we were probably not quite as fast on the straightaway as I thought we needed to be, to be able to make that position work.
Yeah, I don't know, I think tomorrow I may try it. We'll see if we're in that position again.

Q. Do you guys know where you might be behind Kevin? I feel like everybody was kind of behind the 4 car today. Do you know what you might need to work on going into tomorrow?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You know, I think we have some ideas of ways to help our car do the things we need it to do. I don't know that we can get all the way there to be honest with you. Typically if you look at past history here with this package, those guys really excel on tracks like this where you need low drag and high horsepower and things like that. They've got a really good combination at the tracks where you can get away with doing that.
I would say that for us, it's not been our strongest suit being these really fast tracks. I think our cars are just inherently draggy and we pay the price a little bit more I think than most guys at the fast tracks. I don't know, we'll see. We're going to try for sure and give it all we got. I know everybody back at our shop works incredibly hard and does a lot of things to try to make us the best cars out there, and I think we're really close.
I think our car was just really, really fast today, and maybe not as fast as the 4, but pretty dang close, and I didn't see anybody better. If we can gain on it a little bit, maybe we can give them a run for their money tomorrow.

Q. Martin, you've got three straight top 5s now, led more laps in the first half of the season than this past half. From a speed aspect, where would you gauge where the 19 team is at right now?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You know, I think I would say that in general we've been top 3 every single race except for Bristol. Our cars are strong. Our team is really doing a great job bringing fast cars.
I felt like Texas‑‑ Texas, Kentucky, a lot of these places that we've been I feel like we've been good enough to win, and today we were right there again, as well. With no practice or anything, I feel like the guys are doing a good job of getting the cars where we need them to be.
We certainly would like to have more wins and feel like we maybe should have a few more, but that's racing and that's how it goes. Really proud of the effort and obviously stringing together some top‑3 finishes has been good, and especially when you finish third and you feel like you've underachieved, that's a good feeling to have.
We feel good about things and we're consistent as we need to be. We feel good about it, and hopefully we'll continue to find little things that will make us faster.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much for joining us, and congratulations on the finish and we'll see you back at Michigan tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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