NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Hollywood Casino 400
Topics: Hollywood Casino 400
Martin Truex, Jr.
October 21, 2012<
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with our post race availability. We welcome Paul Menard, who finished third in today's race.
Paul, talk a little bit about your run out there today.
PAUL MENARD: Just a good weekend in general. We had a couple days of tests, work on a couple different packages. Slugger came back fresh off of a six‑week vacation. He had a lot of ideas. Luckily we had two days to work through them.
Kind of hit on something yesterday morning that we liked, thought was promising, stuck with it. Obviously running the Nationwide car on a new surface, we learned a lot about tire pressures, what grooves come in. The second groove came in a helluva lot better than I think anybody thought. You could make lap time and pass cars.
Overall, just really happy with the weekend, the repave. The track came in real well and it's just going to keep getting better. Real proud of my Menards guys.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions.
Q. Paul, you sound happy with the repave. What led to all the mayhem out there?
PAUL MENARD: I was pleasantly surprised with it. Anytime you repave a track, you expect the worst, single groove, hard to pass. We've been breaking a lot of track records with all the repaves this year.
Going into the Nationwide race yesterday, I thought it was going to be a single file, right around the bottom, get out of line, be real treacherous. It wasn't. The second groove burned in. The third groove came in today.
For a first race on a repaved track, I thought the track came in really well. Would I rather have the old surface? I would. But with the surface falling apart, they had to do something.
Q. Why all the cautions?
PAUL MENARD: I don't know. People impatient. A lot of restarts. Doesn't matter what track you're at, if there's a restart, you have to get all you can. Carrying a lot of speed here, so it's hard to pass. Very aero dependent. I'm sure everybody was going for it.
Q. Paul, you're not necessarily someone particularly you see up front a lot, but you were dominant yesterday, you were up front most of the day today. Is it the racetrack? Did you hit on something? What was it?
PAUL MENARD: This year we've lacked speed overall week‑to‑week. Last year we qualified really well, had a lot of good speed, but very inconsistent results.
This year RCR as a whole has kind of lacked speed. We found some things in the last month or two that's helped us pick up just overall speed.
Then our consistency this year we've had, even though we haven't been as fast, we've been more consistent. This is just one of the weekends where we put it all together.
THE MODERATOR: Paul, we appreciate your time this afternoon. Congratulations on the run.
PAUL MENARD: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: We now welcome our second‑place finisher Martin Truex, Jr.
Martin, take us through that exciting race today.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It was a wild one, that's for sure. We were second here in the spring, but today was a whole different mood obviously. We had to battle for this one all day long. We didn't have a second‑place car there for a while.
Fought track position most of the day. We started 16th. Didn't qualify all that well. Worked our way up to the top five early. Got caught by the caution. Had to get the wave around, all that.
We came from the back to finish second, which is really hard to do at a place like this, where it's hard to pass, new pavement, the restarts pretty tough.
Good battle for us today. The guys did a really nice job. Nice to come out of here with a good finish. Looking forward to the rest of the season.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Martin.
Q. How much difference did you have between Thursday and Friday with the cloud cover, then Friday and Saturday, two practices with the sun, all of a sudden you come up just before you get started, here comes clouds and wind.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It was definitely different. This place changes so much. We see it every time we come to a place that's a repave. The first couple days of testing, the wind was blowing really hard. Like you said for Friday for practice, it warmed up and got slick. Yesterday the track lost a ton of grip in practice.
Even though it cooled off, clouded up, I felt the track was very similar to yesterday's practice when the sun was out and the temperatures were up. There wasn't a lot of wind.
I still thought yesterday's practice, the track was a very good representation of what we were going to get today. We had the same trouble with our car today we had yesterday. I didn't feel like it was that much different.
Q. Martin, all the cautions.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Crazy.
Q. What do you attribute them to?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Crashes (laughter).
Q. What do you attribute the crashes to?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: There was two grooves out there today. Even the second groove wasn't very high. The bottom lane was definitely the place to be on restarts unless you were the leader and you could control the start, as we seen at the end. The 17 had really good restarts on the outside.
When you're back in traffic, it always seemed better to be on the bottom. For me, when I was on the outside, my car was really, really loose. I was trying to stay as low as I could. I noticed a lot of other guys doing it.
When you get down on that car inside you, you get him loose. The bottom line, everybody was running really tight, really close together, because the groove wasn't that wide, and it caused some problems.
Q. So your assessment of the repave?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I thought it was great. I was definitely surprised and excited that the outside groove came in so early in the race. You can definitely feel that extra banking up there. I feel like when this track gets a little bit of weather to it, obviously pretty tough winters up here, I think even next year, it's going to start to spread out. We'll be able to take advantage of that progressive banking.
I thought they did a great job with the paving. It's really smooth. Goodyear did a great job. No tire problems all weekend. That was a huge step after what happened at Michigan. With the speeds we had here this weekend, they did a phenomenal job of bringing a tire. No blistering or heat issues. I think we changed the left side tires one time today. We changed rights a few times, but we were putting laps on the tires.
Q. You and Matt, you're in the Chase, but you're out of the Chase. Talk about the mentality for guys like you who don't have a chance at winning the championship.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, there's always a chance. As long as there's more racing to go, there's always a chance. Obviously we're further back than we want to be. You can't change that. Those races are behind us now. We just have to do what we did today, which is try to go out and win races. We definitely want to win before the year is out, our team. We've been close, let a couple slip away.
We go each weekend to the racetrack and try to be a good help for our teammates, try to do the best job we can to put all three of our cars up in the front. That's what we're going to continue to do.
Q. 14 cautions, all those crashes. How much of that is luck, to be able to finish as high as you did today?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: When they happen around you, you don't get in them, you have to have some sort of luck obviously. If you cause them, it's sometimes not luck.
There's a lot of luck involved in racing. Obviously you have to be well‑prepared, have a great team, do everything right. But there is some luck involved in racing.
You get a guy that crashes in front of you, you have nowhere to go, a guy that gets loose underneath you, none of it's your fault. A lot of times luck can dictate your racing.
At the end of the day, the great teams are still the guys that are the most consistent. I think the luck, when it happens to you, you always think you're the one that has all the bad luck. I've said it a million times, that I wish I had better luck. There's some things you just can't change. You have to go out, do your job the best you can, have the best team you can, drive your butt off.
Q. Were you lucky today?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I was lucky a few times today. When the 18 and them guys all crashed off four, I was right behind them. Had a little bit of luck. They went down the track, not came back up into me.
Q. Martin, can you talk or did you hear during the course of the race NASCAR officials come over the radio and tell you guys that if you slowed down beyond the minimum you would be penalized for going beyond the minimum speed during the race?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Under cautions when guys were getting passed?
Q. When they were trying to save fuel.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: The rule is you have to maintain your speed. If you're shutting your car off, fine. But you have to stay somewhat close to the guy in front of you, a car length or two.
There's a couple instances where I gained a spot twice. The caution came out, they led off, the whole field is going, they're just sitting there. It happened a few times today obviously.
If you listen every week in the drivers meeting, they say you have to maintain your spot on the track, your track position. You're supposed to stay closed up. If you leave 30 car lengths to the next guy, you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing.
Q. Martin, when you enter the corner, how much are you backing up the corner and where do you pick up the gas? Was the slick part when you went back to the gas? Take us through the moment that the car would try to step out on you a little bit?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Definitely the slickest spot today was going off of turn three, completely out of the gas, still on the brakes a little trying to turn it down to the bottom. Turn three was definitely the loosest spot on the track.
With this repave, it seemed to have a lot of grip. For some reason that one spot in turn three was pretty slick. Most guys were pretty loose there all day, and I was as well.
THE MODERATOR: Martin, thanks for your time and congratulations on a good run today.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Thank you.
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