MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are your thoughts on having a chance to race into the Playoffs tomorrow night?
“Well, yeah, first off, I mean, obviously, we're all thinking about Kurt (Busch) and wishing him the best and hopefully, he gets better and he can come back and do what he loves to do. He's been a good teammate this year. First time I've worked with him and you know, Toyota that’s been fun. So wish him the best and yeah, for us, we're not in until it's over tomorrow night. I don't really have any feelings either way. We’re here to race and excited and two scenarios, one we get in on points, or we win the race. That will be optimum because of the points situations. But yeah, we'll see. You know, we just kind of how it all plays out and we can make our own way in there.”
Did you talk to anyone about the possibility of having a chance now to race into the Playoffs?
“I hadn’t talked to anybody about anything. I heard the news just like everybody else. So yeah, I don't know. I don't really know what went into the process and for Kurt not being in the Playoffs. He probably didn’t feel right taking the spot. I don't know that would be different if it was anybody else in that 16th position. I really don't know. We didn't have those conversations. So yeah. That's all I know. But yeah, it's a good opportunity for us and you know, obviously it's not been the season we've wanted. It would have been nice to be locked in. You never want to come here to Daytona and not be locked in and having to make something happen. So that's why, you know, we’ll just go race tomorrow night, see what happens and really not thinking about it either way, to be honest with you.”
How do you approach the race tomorrow night with the points gap to Ryan Blaney?
“I think we need to go race and try to stay at the front and try to get stage points. You know, like I said, best case scenario for us would be to go out and win because you know, the owner’s championship points side of things. You know, what, you have to fall back on that last spot. We won't be in on owner’s points. So it's not really what you hope to accomplish, right. So we'll just say like I said, I mean, I think we had a really strong car here in February. Led a ton of laps won two stages. Then we got kind of banged up and then finished kind of tore up so you didn't have the speed at the end of the race. But I had a really strong day going and Talladega went good as well. So I feel like our car is really fast here. And hopefully we can take advantage of that. Would be a fun way to win one here with everything on the line.”
Does Drew Herring approach spotting with this car at this track differently?
“We haven't talked specifically about tomorrow night yet. I'm sure we will. Probably tomorrow but or tonight but I think for us it's kind of just been an evolution process of working together at these types of race tracks and trying to just get better at and working together and you know, kind of just feeling things come quicker and be more aggressive and you know, me not checking my mirror when he says to move. That's takes a little while, you know, the first couple times you're like, ‘Yeah, but I’ll check. I know, it's close, you know?’ And then you get to where you just get more comfortable and you trust that guy. So I feel like we've made some really good gaines on the on the speedway's and this year has been pretty good for us. So hopefully we can continue to, to work on that and get better as the night goes on tomorrow night and be in position to take advantage of it at the end.”
If you do advance into the Playoffs, do you feel confident heading into Darlington?
“I do yeah, we had a strong run there back earlier in the year. We got in some trouble late. Like we ran top five around the top five most of the day. We need to be a little better there than we were the last time. I feel good about it. And I feel like we'll have a good shot at going there and running well.”
Is it possible for this race to become even more of a wild card?
“You never know what to expect here but you know it's going to be wild and crazy and there will be a lot of crashes. Rain in the area. Who knows when it could end. Does it even go the full distance? Weather tomorrow looks about like today. So you know, they brought the last regular season race here for a reason. Right? Drama and craziness and that's what we're going to see. So that's why you know, for me, I'm just like, we're just going to go out there and race and try to put our best race out there and hope that we can get it done, but I don't have feelings either way, right now, whether we're going to make it or we're not. We're going to go a race and see how it all unfolds. And there's a lot of things that can happen and we'll just see what happens and take it from there.”
Could you envision a scenario where you help Ryan Blaney win to ensure you get in on points?
“If he (Ryan Blaney) ended up in front of me at the end, and I wouldn't have a problem pushing him. I'm not going to push a guy that hasn't won yet. So I mean, yeah, obviously, I'm going to do what I feel like is the best opportunity for me to win or be in position to win so that would probably be the best scenario. Push Blaney into the lead and pass him coming to the checkers.”
Do you still have a love, hate relationship with Daytona or are you feeling more optimistic?
“I'd say I'm pretty optimistic. You know what we did in February, we can continue that and but yeah, I mean, just you have to stay out of the accidents, right? Because I mean, that's the hardest thing to do here is you never know where they're going to happen. You can be running second or third. You can be running 30th and trying to stay out of the mess so in February we led a bunch, like I mentioned, had a little trouble on pit road went back mid pack and coming back through and there's a crash so you just never know when or where it's going to happen. But yeah, I mean, as far as our speed goes and the things we've been working on between Drew (Herring, spotter) and I and James (Small, crew chief) just feel more confident. This year, I think with this car in general has run well for us and we’re feeling pretty good.”