NASCAR Media Conference
Topics: NASCAR, Busch Series
TRACEY JUDD: Welcome to today's teleconference featuring the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series champion, driver Martin Truex, Jr., and the champion crew chief of the No. 8 Bass Pro Shop Chevrolet, Kevin "Bono" Manion. Our call today originates from the Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, Florida, site of tonight's NASCAR Busch Series Awards Ceremony that will honor Martin and his Chance 2 Motorsports team. Chance 2, co-owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Teresa Earnhardt, won the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series Owners Championship. Martin clinched the title at Darlington four weeks ago, following a season-long battle with rookie Kyle Busch. Martin led the series in wins with six, Busch poles with seven, Top 5s with 17, and Top 10s with 26. He set a series single-season winnings mark by totaling over $2.3 million in race winnings, contingency awards and point fund money. A former NASCAR Busch North Series Rookie-of-the-Year, Martin now has a championship only two years removed from that series. Bono Manion was prepared to take a first-year driver through a partial schedule this year and instead led the Chance 2 team to a championship season. Another success story out of the Northeast, Bono also has won his first championship in one of NASCAR's national series. Martin and Bono, thanks for joining us today. We appreciate your time. Martin, let's start with you real quick. How does all of this feel for you? Has it had a chance to sink in yet?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, it sure has. It's been an incredible season. Just to sit here and look back on it, it's pretty incredible.
TRACEY JUDD: Bono, how about you? How has all of this affected you?
KEVIN MANION: Well, it's just been overwhelming, you know, the calls and the fans and all of the support we've gotten. But just for this team, for where it came and where it's going, it's just a great, great job.
TRACEY JUDD: Let's open it up to questions for the media.
Q. Martin, just wondering what you learned from the Cup races this year? I don't have it right in front of me, but how many did you race in?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: We raced two, two with our own car. Of course, the race we run with the 18 when Dale, Jr., was hurt. But I learned a lot from that. I learned that it's going to be a tough transition. I learned that, you know, the seven that we run this year, we're going to have to be on top of our game and give it 110% just to run, you know, in the Top 20. Cup Series is very competitive. It's a big jump up from the Busch Series. The way they run the races are different. They're longer. They don't seem to race as hard, but at the same time their cars -- the cars that run in the Top 10, Top 15 are just incredible. So we've got a lot of work to do this winter to keep up with them. You know, I think we're up to the task.
Q. Bono, you're going to run a full series in Busch, is that correct?
KEVIN MANION: Yes.
Q. I know that I'm not anybody that can tell you what to do or how to do it, but it seems to me with Martin being able to beat the 10 or 15 that came over to run with him in Busch pretty consistently, to me it doesn't make sense not to move him up full-time into Cup. Could you explain to me why you're not doing that.
KEVIN MANION: Well, I don't know if I can explain exactly. You know, that's not my decision. That's Dale, Jr., and Teresa's. You know, timing is everything. We had an opportunity to probably go Cup racing, you know, in 2005, we just didn't feel that we were a hundred percent as a company ready. You know, Martin, as a driver, a lot of people can say he's ready. As a crew, you know, we can say we're ready. But Dale Jr., did two years in the Busch Series and that's kind of what we're basing Martin's career off. He's so much like Dale, Jr., his driving style, his style of sleeping in, just everything. So Dale, Jr. has been successful. We can for sure move him up, but I think one more year in the Busch Series, getting him some more experience, running the seven Cup races, not throwing him to the wolves. There's some rookies that have turned heads and then there's some other ones that you might say, "Boy, maybe he should have stuck in the Busch Series another year." We just feel like we didn't want to be one of them, and we can come out stronger in 2006.
Q. Martin, as someone who has come up through the Busch North Series, you're kind of one of the first drivers that's going along with NASCAR's plan of coming up from the local tracks to the elite division, to the grand national division. I'm curious what your take is on that plan. Is it a good plan for drivers who want to get into NASCAR as opposed to a lot of drivers who seem to be coming out of the open-wheel ranks?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, I think it's an incredible plan. Just to be involved with NASCAR is great. They do such a good job. They have so many avenues for drivers to come up through the ranks. You know, when you get involved with NASCAR, your name gets all over the place. All you have to do is do a good job and people will know what you're doing somehow through their websites or through all the things that they do for us. They have series all across the country. They're managed well. Everybody knows who's racing in all the NASCAR divisions. It's just a great opportunity for all young drivers like me.
Q. Martin, did you get your speech written? Did you write it yourself or did you ask for help with it?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, I did, yesterday before dinner. Me and my man Josh did it. We had a little bit of a guide in front of us, and we got a foundation. We just ripped it all apart and added to it and took some more out and added some more to it, just kept going back and forth, back and forth with it until we had something that I think is pretty good. So we'll see what happens.
TRACEY JUDD: Martin, your dad Martin Truex, Sr., was a winning NASCAR Busch North Series driver. Can you talk about the relationship you share with him, not just on the track, but off the track, and what lessons he may have shared with you that helped you get to this level today?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Me and my dad are really, really close. He comes to all the races, you know, gives me a lot of support. He's there for advice, not just for racing, but for life, like you said. He's an incredible guy. He's done everything for me in my career. He's the reason I'm here. I could probably sit here and talk about it all day, the things that I've learned from him, the things that he's done for me. Just being around him, growing up, he was inspirational. He's a guy, when he was 16 years old, he lost his dad, started a business when he was probably 18, started with nothing, him and his brothers. You know, today they got a huge company. He was a successful racer. He was successful. He came from nothing really and became successful in racing and business and started a family all at the same time. You know, one of the biggest days in my life was when he quit racing just to give me a chance. There's not many people in this world that could do that, that aren't that selfish or care that much for other people.
TRACEY JUDD: He literally got out of the ride in the Busch North Series so you could develop and get to where you are today, is that correct?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yes.
TRACEY JUDD: Bono, can you talk a little bit about this team as a whole, the fact that you were only scheduled to run 20, 22 races, and maybe about this time last year found out you were going to go a full schedule in the NASCAR Busch Series with a first-year driver to get to this point. Talk about how all of that has evolved for you guys and the team that you put together to get to this point.
KEVIN MANION: Well, it did happen rather quick. I think we were geared up for running the seven or eight races between Dale, Jr. and Martin. We were geared up to run 14 races. All of a sudden we're going to run the full schedule. I'd say the most difficult part of it was Daytona. It was coming up. We had Dale, Jr. and Martin, so we had to build four speedway cars. We already had two from when Dale, Jr. ran. We had a good baseline. But trying to get them cars done, laying out your schedule, what you had to have next, plus a little bit of testing, it was a pretty busy month. But I guess one way to look at it, the 1 team was kind of in limbo, what they were going to do. It worked out good. We were able to put about 95% of the 1 guys back to work. So we really had plenty of help to get the team up and running. Just to go out and sit on the pole at Daytona, that was -- I mean, that right there made every long night in December, January worth it.
Q. Martin, as you know, Ryan Moore has been signed to a driver development deal at DEI. What kind of advice would you offer to him?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I'm not really sure if there's just one thing, you know. Obviously, I'll be spending some time with him later on this winter. I'm there to help him all the way throughout the season. I think as a driver coming into a new series, a huge organization like this, there's always people there to give you advice on anything. There's plenty of people that are going to be around to help him. I don't think there's one thing I could tell him right now.
Q. I just wondered, Bono said that some rookies in the Cup Series have turned heads and others probably should have spent more time in the Busch or Truck Series. You seem comfortable with having another year in Busch. After what happened with Brendan Gaughan, is that kind of not a wake-up call, but is that an example of a guy that had success in another series and then for whatever reason didn't get it done in the Cup Series and is now out of a ride?
KEVIN MANION: No, that's not what I was actually getting at. You know, the Cup Series is so difficult to race in, the different teams, the powerhouses in the Cup Series. I just think as our company talked, I was part of the decision, we all sat in the room and said, "Should we move up? Shouldn't we?" It is so tough. Actually, I love going Cup racing because it reminds me and it tells me to stay humble. We know when we go over there, we're a 25th-place car and we're trying to race in the Top 15. So I think we had a good race car at Homestead and we ran up front a little bit. We ran all day. We stayed on the lead lap. We just happened to get a flat tire at the end of the race and didn't get a finish. At one point we looked like we were going to be the highest-finishing DEI car. I just think the more times Martin can get behind the wheel of a race car, it will just get him ready for 2006.
Q. Martin, are you going to be back home in Jersey at all during December and January?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, I'll be home for Christmas. I guess probably about the 20th, I don't know what the date is, be around for about a week.
TRACEY JUDD: Martin and Bono, again, congratulations on your NASCAR Busch Series championship season. We really appreciate your time today. We know you've got the rest of a busy afternoon ahead of you, getting into your big night tonight. Again, congratulations.
KEVIN MANION: Thank you.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Thank you.
TRACEY JUDD: We'd like to thank you all for your participation in the NASCAR Busch Series champions teleconference and best wishes, everyone, for a happy holiday season.
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