Toyota Racing – NCS Sonoma Quotes – Martin Truex Jr. – 06.07.24

Story By: SAM MAHONEY / TOYOTA RACING – SONOMA, CA – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was made available to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway on Friday.

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry XSE, Joe Gibbs Racing

Do you think the turn 11 wall can affect racing this weekend?

“It is definitely different. We are used to having the tires down there – which at some point during the race – the tires just kind of keep getting moved back a bit, and you can use more of that paint in turn 11, which really helps you get through there. It is going to be a little bit trickier. We have seen contact in that corner, many times before, so there is not really anywhere to escape when you have a guy kind of squeezing you going in there, so it could cause some problems, we will see.”

Are you any closer to making a decision for 2025, and is Joe Gibbs Racing putting any pressure on you?

“Every week. I’m closer every week.”

How does the new pavement affect you this weekend?

“It is definitely going to be a lot different, than it’s been. I think for as long as I can remember – you would come to Sonoma and you would think, worn out track, tire wear – the approach is a lot different than it is now. Now it is really going to be, pretty much, running qualifying laps every lap with the tires that don’t really wear out, or fall off much. Totally different approach than we’ve done at Sonoma in the past, but with that being said, we tested out here – I felt good about it, and it is still the same course. New challenges, same course – and hopefully we can figure it out and go win number five here.”

Were you upset to hear about the repave and does that change your strategy for this weekend?

“I wish they didn’t. We had something really good here working, and certainly, last year, we did really well with it. I don’t know. We’ve won on both configurations of track here. I’ve won in some different race cars here, over the years, different models of cars, different generations of cars – really it is just about adapting. We tested out here and I thought it went really well, but I think this could be probably the hardest one to win – of all of them, because it is going to come down to track position, and being on the right strategy, having good pit stops – we could see a guy gamble on when to pit, and catch a caution and win the race – kind of come from nowhere. I think there is going to be more – there is more of a chance for an upset or for a guy surprising the field I think, this time around – where before, if your car was really good, you could drive through the field – simple as that. You could pass cars, on old tires, and that is going to be a challenge this time around, I feel like.”

Do you think that the top teams have to assume going in, there won’t be many yellows?

“I think you always try to plan for every possible thing that could happen. If there is no cautions, here is our game plan – and if there is, you have to change, you have to adapt and you have to try to make the right decisions in that moment. I think everybody will have a play sheet, so to speak, on what they think is going to be right and you just wait to see how it plays out, you never know – a lot can happen here. It is a narrow track, certainly narrower than COTA, and there is potential for guys getting into each other is there, so we will just see how it plays out.”

What did you think when you saw the track came up in a few places?

“Yeah, I don’t know. I was interested in seeing them. I was surprised. The track was in really good shape when we were here, and now watching on TV, Xfinity practice and I see a lot of patchwork, and a lot of things that look totally different than we were here. I think it is going to be different – no question. I don’t know what they used. Anytime, they mess with the circuit, you mess with the grip level in all of those corners – it changes a lot. You just have to get out there. Fortunately, we have a little bit of practice, and we will get a feel from that – and we have the opportunity to make some changes on the car, which we don’t normally. Hopefully, we can figure it out better than everyone else – that is all that matters. The track is the track, it is going to be the same for all of us.”

Does the changes with the addition of the wall in turn 11 affect you how you enter it?

“I think it is going to be a little different. Different visual for sure, not having just tires there, having a wall. There was always a little bit of wiggle room – you could move around there in turn 11 and find some grip, especially on the curb, and now there is less room there, I think it just depends on what the track is like. If it is really slippery down there, sometimes the curb gains grip as there is rubber put down on it and things like that. We will just have to see how things work this time around – it is definitely going to be a little bit harder to hit your marks down there, I think.”

What do you remember about your first race here at Sonoma?

“My first race here, I just remember making a big mistake qualifying. I think I went from third to second in qualifying, instead of third to fourth coming out of turn 11, and if I remember right, we had to change engines for the race, so we started in the back – had a really fast car, and passed a lot of cars, and had a lot of fun. The first time here, I fell in love with this place and always have loved it ever since. Definitely remember that day. It was a ton of fun to pass a lot of cars, and we had a good day overall.”

What is your initial goal in practice with the additional laps you got with the tire test?

“Probably not much different than everyone else, just go out there and get a feel for the track. It is a lot hotter than it was then – I’m not even sure on what tires they landed on, I know my guys have worked hard to prepare and they do a great job coming here. I look forward to getting in the car and getting warmed up and trying to find some speed. That is really what it is all about – and get ready for qualifying tomorrow. Excited for that – and see what we can do.”

Does the extra speed change braking at all?

“Yeah, a little bit. Your marks are going to be a little bit different. I think the biggest thing is just that – the tire fall off is not there, and the track is going to continue to get faster the more we run on it, and so, it is going to be different tomorrow, it is going to be different on Sunday. It is going to continue to change, and we are going to need to figure out what direction to go and what direction the track is going to go, and hopefully keep our car good all weekend.”