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September 11, 2021

James Small

Martin Truex

Richmond, Virginia, USA

Press Conference

An Interview with:

THE MODERATOR: We have now been joined by our race winner, Martin Truex Jr., and our race winning crew chief, James Small.

Q. Martin, how long did it take you to get over the penalty at the start of the race?

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, just two laps after I pitted or whatever, I was like, this is ridiculous, but I'm already last now, so there's nothing I can do except for go forward.

Yeah, I don't really understand what you're supposed to do in that situation. I let the 11 get a nose out in front of me to get the launch first. I wasn't going to jump him, and then he spun the tires and stopped. What am I supposed to do, stand on the brakes and crash the field behind me? It's ridiculous, but yeah, I got over it fairly quickly because that's what it was, and we had to go forward.

Q. On the last run, was that the best your car had been over the last like 150 laps during the night?

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No, no. For whatever reason, those last two runs under green it wasn't the best. I think the best run we had was when we fired off there to start stage 3 and hounded the 11 for a bit there and then passed him and drove off. I think that was about the best we were all night.

Q. James, coming into the playoffs, was it important for you to get this playoff win and does this feel different than other wins you've had during the regular season?

JAMES SMALL: Yeah, definitely, especially heading into Bristol. You know, it's not one of our best tracks. We're a little bit hit-and-miss. To miss out last weekend, I thought we could have done better there, and then to come back and hit it this weekend, it's good. Just helps with the bonus point situation for the next round, especially with Talladega in there, and yeah, super important. Every win feels different, but they're never less exciting. We celebrate hard no matter what.

Q. How would you guys describe your communication during the race? I don't know if you guys were joking or getting snippy with each other or what that was about.

JAMES SMALL: Which part?

Q. There was an exchange during --

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: James is hard to understand on the radio and it gets me excited and then he gets excited and we just go back and forth a bit, so it's kind of fun actually.

JAMES SMALL: Martin is half deaf, I think, because he doesn't wear ear molds, so I blame it on that. Or I need a translator. Maybe I just need a translator.

Q. Is it one of those things, though, that it quickly subsides and then after the race everything is back to normal and all good?

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I mean, I can honestly say that we've never really -- at least from my standpoint, I've never really gotten mad at him. Heat of the moment we kind of get a little fired up, but I don't think we've gotten mad and yelled at each other per se. I've been cussed out and cussed people out way harder than James and I have done, so it's been pretty good actually.

I think a lot of times I sound like I'm mad on the radio and I'm yelling, but I'm not. It's just so loud in there I think I just try to yell loud enough that they can hear me.

Q. James, the strength that JGR showed on the 750 tracks here to open the first two playoff races, do you think that's something that you guys have picked up like to another level for the playoffs, or has that been the same speed you feel like you've had all year at these kind of tracks?

JAMES SMALL: I feel like really it's been the same all year. It's just we weren't very good as a company on the concrete tracks, at like Dover and Nashville. Whatever we had going on there, we kind of missed it compared to some of the other cars.

But at the start of the year I felt like as a company we were strong. Obviously the last two races, and then even at Loudon, the 20 had a really good run. All of us could have had a good run, but we had that incident at the start with the rain and the 11 ran into issues on pit road, I believe.

Across the board, I feel like we're strong. We've been working hard, and it's the bread and butter of the championship is almost 750 races now, so it's important to be good.

Q. Martin, your confidence at this track has got to be sky high now, for a guy that supposedly could never win on short tracks. But on that last run, Denny was coming; were you guys saving a little bit in case you needed it if he got close, or how did those last 10, 12 laps play out when you knew he was a little bit faster?

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I mean, when you're out there far enough, you understand they're not going to catch you. You're just trying to log laps and hope that the caution doesn't come out. It's nice to be on that end of it, obviously. Last week we were on the opposite end of the spectrum; we were coming and ran out of time.

Yeah, it worked out the way we needed it to, obviously, and I would say the last run wasn't our best one by any means, but we had a big enough lead there once the 18 had a speeding penalty that we could kind of be a little bit cautious in lap traffic and just take care of it to get to the end.

Q. You had kind of that quiet summer stretch and it took you a while to get back to Victory Lane, kind of like it took Denny a while to get to Victory Lane lane this season. What does it mean to get back there, and how are you going to use that momentum going forward?

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I certainly hope so. Summer was tough. We had a lot of tough luck and a lot of crashes and got caught in the rain a few times. Some crazy things happened to us. I felt like we brought good speed all summer. We had good cars for the most part, other than as James mentioned, the concrete tracks really kind of whipped us.

But in general, I think we felt good coming into the playoffs. We got a lot of questions about how we felt about our team, and I was straight up saying that I felt good about it. We had speed, and our guys are doing a great job.

Yeah, I certainly hope we can take advantage of the momentum and this win, and a few extra bonus points for the next round, and yeah, you just never know how things are going to go. Obviously happy to win here this evening. It's a big day, and had a great car, and this place has been good to us.

Just got to keep our heads down, keep focused and take them one at a time.

Q. Martin, it took you so long to get the short track win. I remember how we were always on that train of when are you going to win at a short track. Now you've won three of the last five races at Richmond. What is it about this place? Did something click? Did you pick up on something, or how have you gotten so comfortable here lately?

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Honestly, nothing really clicked. It wasn't like one thing we did. It was just kind of a work in progress more than anything. Honestly I've always felt good at this racetrack and had some really good runs years ago in other cars with other teams. Honestly it's more just great equipment, a great approach to the racetrack. Really once we got in Gibbs cars and I guess 2016 is when we really turned the corner on being one of the guys to beat every time we come here.

We certainly gave a few away here in the past, and to have three is pretty awesome. Feeling lucky to have great equipment, and always look forward to coming here.

Q. Martin, you mentioned that James kind of riled you up on the radio and you get kind of flustered with some of the stuff he says. Can you speak to that a little bit more, and is it a positive thing? And when you win races he's going nuts on the radio; what do you think of that and just his antics on the radio I guess you could say and how it affects you?

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, when he goes nuts when we win, that's the best part. That's exciting. He works so hard, obviously, and he's so dedicated to what he does. He's supposed to be fired up. He's supposed to be excited.

We all are, and these races are so hard to win. But him and the engineers and all those guys, man, they work so, so hard. I can't even explain the determination they have.

Yeah, that's great, and I would say that he doesn't really get me too fired up on the radio, I think it just sounds that way. I have a hard time hearing him all the time when he gets excited, so that's the biggest problem. Other than that, I would say that I stay fairly calm and not much really gets me rattled. I think it's more just I sound excited because I'm trying to yell loud enough they can hear me because I can't hear them, so it's like it messes with you.

Q. James, I know when you won your first race with Martin back a couple years ago, you were talking about how everybody in Australia was going nuts and they were all up and they were texting you. Do they still stay up to watch you guys' races and do you still hear from them whenever you guys run well and win races?

JAMES SMALL: Yeah, for sure. Most of them are locked down these days. Yeah, they watch, they watch every race. They follow. There's a whole bunch of people. I've got 100 messages here from people out there right now. They're big supporters of our team, and they love it.

THE MODERATOR: Martin, James, congratulations again on the victory. We appreciate you you spending some time with us and best of luck next weekend in Bristol.

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