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August 23, 2020

Martin Truex, Jr.

Dover, Delaware

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Martin Truex Jr., driverof the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota who finished second today.

Q. It feels like you're starting a new consistency streak. You had five straight races finishing third, now two here finishing second. How does it feel coming into the playoffs with this sort of consistency?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, and I think we were second at Kentucky, too, like right there before that. Yeah, definitely been good to run right out front, be running top 3. That's where you need to be running to make your way through the playoffs. Obviously wish we could have won a few more. Our bonus point situation is not the greatest, and that's something that we've really been working hard on trying to get some more here lately. Just seems like we're always just right there second or third. Overall it was good. It's good momentum. It's good to be consistent. We've just got to keep working to find a little bit more.

Q. You said you may have had a loose tire there on that last run. Did it affect you during that run?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Maybe a little bit. Maybe a little. I don't think we had anything for the 4. He was pretty lightning fast. I think we finished where we should have there. Yeah, I think it hurt us a little, but not enough to run with the 4 car.

Q. With this kind of consistency people talk about, okay, to get the wins you've got to consistently run up front. Are you surprised you've had this kind of consistency and it hasn't translated into at least one more win?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I mean, I think there was two or three races there in this stretch that I thought we had the best car, and I thought we should have won, and I screwed up at the Daytona road course last week and probably could have‑‑ probably could have got a win there I felt like or at least battled for it.
A couple places we've been really good, Kansas I thought we had the best car and lost track position on pit road just by strategy.
I mean, it's just been little things here and there that we've got to be smarter about, but also I think overall we've got to find a little bit more speed if we can, and again, we're so close. It's just little things here and there we've got to look at and figure out how to turn those seconds and thirds into victories.

Q. You've been in position before at this time of the season where you've had a huge amount of bonus points. Harvick and Hamlin have that now. Just how big a deal is that to go into the playoffs with that many bonus points?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, more than anything it's just a safety net. It's a comforting feeling when you go and have a bad day. You have something to fall back on. Really through the years, even the years where we had a lot of them, we never really had to use them. We were never in position to need those points. You know, but then again, in I guess it was 2016 we didn't have a lot and we had two bad races and we could have used them. It really just depends.
I think we're strong enough as a team, we can overcome it. We can definitely make the Final Four with the way we're running. We've done it before in 2015 with not having a lot of bonus points. But it's just nice to have that cushion, that comfort that if something bad happens you kind of get a mulligan there. But I think we'll be fine without it.

Q. Where do you see yourselves compared to the 4 car right now and maybe where they're better just a little bit?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Depends on the track. Depends on where you're asking about. We've been better than them at times, but I'd say obviously they've been really strong pretty much everywhere. They're just fast. I think Kevin and Rodney are both‑‑ they both do a great job. They've been fast for years. It's not surprising. They know all the little details, and they do a great job executing.
I think overall they're probably just a little bit‑‑ got a little bit more speed than we do, and I think probably one of the biggest things I notice is their ability to get through traffic better than our cars, and that's something we've been really focusing on and working on, and we haven't found a whole lot that really has helped us in that department.
Just trying to figure that out, but again, the 11 has been really fast, they've won a bunch of races, but we've been right there, too. Again, we've been right there, we just need a little bit more. You just keep working, that's all you can do. This stuff is hard, it's not easy, so it's pretty impressive what they're doing.

Q. With the consistency that you've had these last‑‑ really the last month and a half or so, how do you translate that into playoff momentum when you have Daytona as such an outlier next week kind of breaking up the monotony?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, Daytona you just go race and see what happens. I don't think you really take anything out of that place. It is what it is there. For us I think we just go there and hope to finish on all four tires and not crashed. Really it has absolutely zero bearing on the playoffs, so I think for us, we're in a good place. We're comfortable with where we're at. We feel good about things, and we're totally focused on what we're doing, and I think the consistency is something that's going to pay off. We'll just have to wait and see how much.

Q. James Small's first year on top of the box as a crew chief for you guys this year, but he's worked under Cole Pearn and with you guys in previous years. Where is your confidence in him as he goes into his first playoffs as the lead guy on that pit box?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Oh, he's doing a great job. He's doing‑‑ I think for his first year, he's doing good and making good decisions. I think the biggest thing is leading the team, and there's a lot that goes on behind the scenes. It's not just how fast is our car going and how are our finishes and how many races have we won and all that. There's a lot behind the scenes going on there.
I think as far as that goes, everything has really gone smooth. All the guys really have a lot of respect for him, all the team guys, and the guys working on the cars and mechanics and everything. He gets along well with all the other crew chiefs. So all those little things. He really fits in well, I think, and does a good job. Again, he's real similar to Cole, I think, and obviously learned a lot from him and has been around him a long time.
I think he's done a really fine job, and I think for us, the communication is going well and we're on the same page. I feel like we're one step behind on a lot of things, like yesterday we were pretty close, pretty close to having a shot at winning and then thinking last night we could make our car better and we didn't make it better, and now after the race today, we both agreed on what we did was not what we should have done and what we should have done is what we both thought about last night and didn't talk about.
We're on the same page as far as that goes. We're a step behind here and there, and that's what we've got to figure out how to be a little bit better at.

Q. My question concerns the news today that came out about the Martin Truex Foundation teaming up with NASCAR. How proud are you of this endeavor, and how proud are you that you continue to make an impact both on and off the track for this sport?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, thanks for bringing that up. I'm really proud of it and I'm really proud of the idea that the girls came up with it, our foundation. It's been a tough year for us fundraising, and with COVID and all that's gone on, our big fundraiser of the year had to get canceled. It's been a bit of a challenge to try to raise money to continue helping all the great people that we've been able to have partnerships with and things.
Really excited about this thanks to NASCAR for teaming up with us and allowing us to do this, and obviously all the teams that have so far agreed to do this. I think we're up over 30 at the moment, I think, already, is what I heard this morning. Just really proud to be able to do this and continue to help raise money for women and children battling cancer.

Q. It's been the Harvick and Hamlin show this year, but you've got some experience with the playoffs, of course. If you have a message for your competitors, what would you want to say to them in terms of the 19's presence when it comes to crunch time in NASCAR?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Really nothing. I think the results speak for themselves. For us I think if they forget about us, that's fine, because we're right there. We're ready to pounce. Again, we're close. We obviously haven't won as many races as I think we should have, but we're ready, and hopefully the momentum will swing our direction and they'll forget about us and we'll go beat them all.
THE MODERATOR: Martin, thanks for joining us. Congratulations on the weekend and we'll see you in Daytona in a few days.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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