Q & A with Martin Truex, Jr. and Joe Garone

Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr.

MARTIN TRUEX, JR. NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW/VISSER PRECISION CHEVROLET SS AND FURNITURE ROW RACING GM, JOE GARONE met with media and discussed the last week’s win at Pocono, the success of a one-car team based in Denver, the possibility of an upcoming rules change, the quest for sponsorship, and more.

AFTER YOUR WIN AT POCONO, TALK ABOUT HOW IT’S BEEN TO DIGEST THE VICTORY AND HOW YOUR WEEK HAS GONE

TRUEX, JR: “Yeah, it’s definitely been a great week. It’s been a little bit crazy. I’ve been in Michigan trying to do a little bit of vacationing. I generally come up here after Pocono and spend a week fishing. And we’ve got some friends up in Traverse City, Lake Michigan area, and we go up and spend some time there and I do some fishing. I had a good test at Darlington on Wednesday, so I’ve been all over the place. I’ve done a lot of interviews and a lot of different things all week, but it’s been a great week. It’s been awesome just to feel the excitement around the race team to feel kind of a sense of accomplishment that we have this week and I’m just really looking forward to the weekend here at Michigan and to keep this thing going and working towards what we want to do for the last 10 races."

FOR FURNITURE ROW AND GETTING A WIN FOR A SINGLE-CAR TEAM BASED IN DENVER, IT’S GOT TO BE PRETTY SPECIAL. TALK ABOUT HOW THINGS HAVE BEEN AT THE RACE SHOP THIS WEEK; DO PEOPLE HAVE SOME EXTRA SPRING IN THEIR STEPS

GARONE: “Oh, absolutely. And it really goes back four weeks ago, probably. We’ve been running really well and feeling like we should be getting a win. And the fact is, you can run really well for years and not get a win. So, getting a win just sent the shop over the top. The guys have been working really hard and this just brings a whole new energy, which is terrific at this time of year. It’s a good time to have that energy. So, it’s been real exciting, for sure."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF A RULES CHANGE?

TRUEX, JR: “From what I understand, they’re looking at doing it at Kentucky, which is just for one race. We’ll have to see how that goes. I don’t know. I have as many questions about it as everybody else. What’s it going to be like? Is it going to do what they think and what some of the drivers think it’s going to do? Honestly, I think you could pretty much throw any rules package at this team and we’d be able to figure it out. I’ve got a lot of confidence in what we’re doing and the way we work together and our resources and how they use those resources. I think that it’s going to be different for everyone and it’s just a matter of who can figure it out the quickest. And I feel like our group can do that. I’m looking forward to it, actually. I think it’ll be fun."

WHY DO YOU THINK YOU AND YOUR CREW CHIEF, COLE PEARN, HIT IT OFF SO WELL? WITH HIM BEING CANADIAN, HAVE YOU LEARNED MORE ABOUT CANADA AND HOCKEY

TRUEX JR.: “We’ve always gotten along really well. He was our engineer last year. Most of the communication about the race car from me went through Cole. And, honestly, we’ve always really gotten along. We’ve always looked at things the same way and had kind of a similar approach. I think that comes from our backgrounds. We kind of grew up doing the same things (like) going to the race track racing as young kids. He raced Go-Karts and Late Models and the Canadian Tour Series and all that; which is kind of what I did. I raced Go-Karts and Modifieds and Busch North. So, I don’t know. We’re a similar age. We’re just kind of built the same way, I guess, and just get along really well. It’s been great to work with him. It’s been awesome just to see how much he’s changed over the past year. I think Joe (Garone) can comment about how much he changed when he took over the reins. He was really quiet and reserved and kind of bit his tongue a lot last year. And now, he doesn’t have to do that. Once he took over, he just became a different person. And everybody bought in and believed in what he was doing right away. And that’s really been a difference-maker for our team. He brought in some new engineers to help him do his job better and our whole group is just on the same page. Part of that is because the people he brought were the right mentality. And part of that is because of the way he’s led the team."

DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO ADD TO THAT AS FAR AS GETTING THE RIGHT PEOPLE TOGETHER?

JOE GARONE: “It’s truly about people. What Martin just said was true. Cole has been with us quite a while. And we’ve talked about him advancing to a crew chief position. But until the day that actually happens, you really don’t know how somebody is going to respond. And he walked in the shop, once he finally accepted the fact that he was going to be the crew chief, and it was a switch-flipped. He went from being able to say, ‘Well, they’ll get it fixed; don’t worry about it’, to grabbing the reigns and saying this is what we’re going to do and just take the lead. It didn’t surprise me. But I was happy to see it happen. And it’s been leadership ever since then. So it’s been really strong and good."

HOW REALISTIC IS IT FOR A ONE CAR TEAM FROM DENVER TO TAKE ON THE GIANTS DOWN IN CHARLOTTE AND WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP? WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?

TRUEX, JR.: “More of what we are doing and just continuing to get better and push hard and try to find more speed. I think everybody is looking right now. Everybody is constantly working hard things change a lot in this garage area. There are a lot of smart people that are always working and always pushing to find more. We just have to keep doing that. I think that we have shown this year that we are capable of it. Certainly the last four weeks have been great. I feel like we have shown and proved that we can battle with them week in and week out. Honestly we just have to keep our eye on the prize, stay focused and keep working hard. I know for a fact the team has it in them. It’s just a matter of whether we get it done or not."

IF THE RULE CHANGES DO OCCUR AT KENTUCKY THAT IS ONLY A MONTH FROM TODAY IS THAT ENOUGH TIME WITH ALL THE OTHER STUFF THAT YOU GUYS HAVING GOING ON TO ADJUST AND SEE WHAT YOUR TEAM NEEDS TO DO?

TRUEX, JR.: “I think Joe can probably answer that better than I could. I guess it really depends on is it just really going to be one race. How much time do you want to spend on worrying about one race? Are we going to have this rules package for the Chase? There are a lot of questions right now I think from everyone. If it’s just going to be for one race to see how it goes, yeah, we are going to put some effort into it, but we are not going to throw away a chance to work on our cars for later in the season. And keep developing on the package we have now."

BARNEY VISSER HAD BROUGHT UP EARLIER THIS WEEK POTENTIALLY BEING OPEN TO LOOKING INTO A DIFFERENT MANUFACTURER. DO YOU GUYS CHALK THAT UP TO THE BUSINESS SIDE OF THINGS AND LOOKING FOR MORE SUPPORT? WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU GUYS STAND ON ALL THAT RIGHT NOW?

JOE GARONE: “It is it’s about business. We are in a sport that is real expensive. We truly can’t afford to do it. We can do it. When I say we can’t afford to do I mean at the level we want to push it to in order to be able to be in position to win a championship. We need more resources. Chevrolet has been a great partner. We have been together for 10 years now. But they are spread across… they do a great job look at all the championships they have won. But to get to the level we need to get to we need to get a lot more support. We are open and have been looking to try and get that just to push our team forward further."

THERE IS TALK ABOUT FOR NEXT YEAR TRACK SPECIFIC AERO PACKAGES AS A DRIVER WOULD YOU SUPPORT THAT KIND OF MOVE?

TRUEX, JR.: “I will support whatever puts on good racing. I think everybody is on the same page as far as that goes. We will do whatever it takes to make the racing the best we can make it. I think that if you have different aero packages for different race tracks it’s certainly going to put a ton of extra strain on the teams. They are going to have to build more racecars, have more cars. I can’t imagine the wind tunnel time and the expense that it’s going to be to make all that happen to try to be competitive with each one of them. You can’t just pick one. You have to be good at all of it. Again, we will just have to see where it all goes."

THE TEAM REALLY NOTICED A DIFFERENCE IN YOU AT A CALIFORNIA TEST IN THE OFF SEASON. IS THAT KIND OF WHERE THE LIGHT SWITCH FLIPPED ON FOR YOU WITH THE TEAM?

TRUEX, JR.: “I think it was probably earlier than that. I think it honestly goes back to Kansas last year, the fall race, where we really pinpointed a big issue that we had. That was really the first step in correcting our issues and trying to kind of figure out okay this is the road we need to go down. If we keep going down this road this is going to be good. Then California test in the off season kind of validated that. We took that kind of direction and kept going that way and it was like okay. We went to California and we really felt good about that and have just continually built from there."

SO BASICALLY FINDING A CHASSIS THAT SUITED YOUR DRIVING STYLE?

TRUEX, JR.: “No a chassis that stuck to the race track. Honestly you can’t really say driving style because I was the only person that ever drove in that chassis last year. We had some issues. We changed some things and the car was just super inconsistent. We never knew what it was going to do. From one practice to the next, from one week to the next, we just consistently chased our tail last year in circles and never got anywhere until we made those changes."

YOU ARE IN A UNIQUE SITUATION WHERE IT’S JUST YOU AND THE GUYS. ALL THE ATTENTION IS ONE YOU CAN YOU EXPLAIN OR DESCRIBE WHAT MAKES THAT SO SPECIAL?

TRUEX, JR.: “That part of it is quite different from being at a place where there is two cars or three cars or what have you. It gives you so much confidence as a driver because you know everybody there. You know from all the guys at the shop, all the guys on the road, everybody is pulling in the same direction. Everybody is all for one car. You don’t have to worry about them talking about you behind your back about well this car did that and this driver doesn’t like that here and this and that. There is none of that. Everybody is completely 100 percent focused on that No. 78 car and what it takes to make it run fast including me. It makes it really easy to focus on what you need to do to be better."

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CELEBRATION AND TRYING TO WIN THAT CHAMPIONSHIP IS THERE ANY NEGATIVE TO TALKING ABOUT A MANUFACTURER CHANGE MIDSEASON LIKE THIS SO PUBLICALLY?

JOE GARONE: “I don’t think so. You could look and probably come up with some things, but the truth is we didn’t say we were changing. We were just saying that we are looking. It is just something that we need to do across the board including sponsorship. One of the things about the No. 78 car is because it has always had Furniture Row and Denver Mattress on it everybody assumes it is sponsored. It has made it tough to find partners, but again Barney (Visser, team owner) owns those companies. We need to get the word out that we are actively looking for sponsorship to come on board. Not just for the No. 78, but to expand the company into a multi-car team. It is for the long term growth of the team. We will just see what plays out and just keep pushing the button and try to expand this thing."

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