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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Daytona Testing

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Daytona Testing

Carl Edwards
Martin Truex, Jr.
January 20, 2011


THE MODERATOR: We are pleased to be joined by Martin Truex Jr., who drives the No. 56 NAPA Toyota. We appreciate you coming in. You've had some good success here at Daytona, you've run well at these superspeedways. What's it going to take to win the 53rd running of the Daytona 500?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, that's what we're here to find out. We're just excited to be down here driving the NAPA Toyota again this year. A lot of things have changed obviously, the nose and tail on the cars and the track being paved. So hopefully this afternoon in drafting we'll figure out what it takes to get there, and hopefully we'll be able to do that.

Q. Tony Stewart was talking about turn 2. I know the transition there used to be very abrupt. How has that transition changed and how are you going to go through turn 2?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It definitely feels different. You know, it feels like the transition is a little bit more extreme than it used to be, to be honest with you. It feels like the track falls out from under you faster, so that's going to make changes interesting in the draft.
Like I said, again, we're going to find out more this afternoon I would say, but it's definitely a little bit different, but very, very smooth, obviously a big change from what it was last year and the last few years. I think it's going to be good.

Q. You mentioned the changes with the car, with the nose of the car. Can you feel anything different in single car runs?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No, not really, not here, and we've actually done a little bit of downforce testing and short track testing with it, and I don't think it's a huge difference from what we had. I think the playing field will be a little bit more level, the way the noses are mounted, the structure behind it that holds the nose on the car at the height it's supposed to be. I think it'll be a little bit more even across the board. Other than that I think it's fairly similar, it just looks a whole lot better, which is good.

Q. I want to ask you about some of the drivers who were here in December talked about three wide, four wide, even five wide racing maybe with the new surface. I know you haven't really drafted yet, but can you see that happening? Are we going to have four wide racing more often than not?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I'm sure somebody will try it at some point, and if we get to the corner and we're five wide I can promise you there will be a wreck. Honestly, you look back at the last few Talladega races with the new asphalt being smooth, everybody can run wide all day, everybody handles good. It comes down to how many cars can you fit in that space. That's how many we're going to try to get in there.
There's going to be times when a guy goes to make it four wide and he doesn't know it's already four wide, but I think three wide around here is even pretty tight. It'll be three wide all day, like Talladega is four wide all day, and that's just how it's going to be.
THE MODERATOR: Joining us also at the podium is Carl Edwards. He drives the No. 99 AFLAC Ford for Roush-Fenway. I'll let you get to that question and then I'm going to ask you a question, but if you want to address the three, four, five wide possibilities here at Daytona.
CARL EDWARDS: I think Martin said it best. It's just going to be wild. The track is so smooth and has so much grip that there's no telling what people will try. You know, the last lap is going to be insane.

Q. Both Carl and Martin, if you can address this on the proposed changes in the point system, assuming it comes to fruition, what's your take on it? It seems to be kind of a moving target every year. I know it's the same for everybody, but there's tweaks along the way. Can you address the proposed changes?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, I think no matter what they decide to do, they're going to do what's best for the sport. And I think all of us in here, in the garage, drivers, crew chiefs, owners, everybody understands that. When we come to Daytona, it doesn't matter what we're racing for, we're all out there to win. It doesn't matter how many points we get or anything. We just come here each week to do the best we can for our sponsors, for ourselves and try to win races.
Whether it's worth 180 points or whether it's worth eight points, it doesn't really matter.
CARL EDWARDS: I'm not sure what the final decision is yet, but if it makes it simpler to determine -- for instance, if I'm running 12th or something, I don't know exactly how many points that's worth. I've been doing this long enough, I should know that. If it makes it simpler to understand for the competitors and the fans, who gets how many points, I think that's great. I think it's a good move. And like Martin said, we all race so hard for the wins, whatever the point system is, we're going to race hard.

Q. Carl, I know this is a foregone conclusion. I assume with this new rule you have elected to earn points in the Cup series versus Nationwide. My question following up on that, are you still planning to run the entire Nationwide Series, and would you have preferred maybe to see like maybe a grandfather clause for guys who were already in doing both series like you and Brad Keselowski?
CARL EDWARDS: Yes, that would have been great for me and Brad, and I don't know who else is maybe planning on running. But we're going to run for the Cup championship. I mean, that's the check mark I put in there. But I'm still going to start -- we're going to start on our 60 team running for the championship, and I'm going to run every race. We're going to start that way, see how it goes, and we still have the owner's championship to go for, we still have all those wins to race for, and that's fun. That's what makes the Nationwide Series fun. I would really love to be able to have another championship battle with Brad, especially him because of how well he ran last year. It would be great to go out and try to race him again for it.
My plan is to run every race. If we get eight or ten races in and it's not looking good, then I don't know what we'd do. Whatever looks best for our Cup program.

Q. You guys were laughing sort of when you talked about how wild it's going to be here at Daytona, and I saw Martin just break out in a big grin. Good wild, crazy wild, out of control wild, we're going to love to do it wild? Can you put that in perspective?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: It's going to be wild. It's going to be fun. I love racing here. Here and Talladega are some of the funnest races for us as drivers until you get in a wreck, and then you're just pissed off, and you're pissed off until you come back and hoping to finish the next one.
It's a helpless feeling to get crashed out on one of these races, especially when you have a good car, you're running up front. Everybody has a chance to win these things. It's like gambling, really. It's just a lot of fun to do it until you lose.
CARL EDWARDS: Exactly like gambling. Yeah, I think a lot of guys will be thinking about those 43rd, 42nd, 41st positions, one, two, three points the first half of the race. I think you'll see -- I don't know, I think you're going to see a race like I've never been a part of here at Daytona. It's a different racetrack. It's going to be wild.

Q. I'll try this question again. It didn't go over so well the last time. Talking about the racing you're talking about, racing so closely with your competitors, how do you develop the trust and respect for each other that has to be done, and could you recall a story from the past maybe with someone? How does that develop and how do you see that playing out?
CARL EDWARDS: You know, it's just such a dynamic race. You know, if you're in the middle of the pack, everybody is trying to get a little advantage or sometimes guys are trying to pull out and cool their engines off or whatever, and there are times where you get put in a position and you realize, man, if this guy behind me doesn't lift a little bit or if this guy doesn't give me a little space, it's over.
It's pretty amazing how well everyone works together. There have been a few times racing at these restrictor plate tracks where I could not thank the guy enough running next to me for realize what's going on and moving over or giving me a break. I've only been doing this for five or six years now, but it seems like everyone is just getting better and better at giving and taking at these races. That can all change in an instant. A guy will leave you out or bump into you or move you, but for the most part that doesn't happen until the very end.
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I think the biggest thing about it is nobody wants to crash, so everybody tries to do the right thing most of the time, 99 percent of the time. White flag comes out, that's when nobody lifts and that's when you see things happen in my opinion.

Q. Carl, at the end of last season understandably you talked a whole lot about momentum and the way you finished and carrying that over into this year. Can you describe how that might work into something tangible as opposed to just a feeling? How can you carry that momentum over and translate it into something on the track?
CARL EDWARDS: First of all, I had to come up here and tell Martin I really appreciate him getting that flat tire because I think I would have finished 2nd at Homestead. But the way we finished the 2010 season is the way we'd like to run all the time, and I feel the way our team is structured right now, we're set to have one of our best seasons for Roush -- for all of the Roush teams, including ours. I'm excited about it.
I don't believe much in momentum. I used to not, but now I understand how it works, and I'm hoping to capitalize on that for this season.

Q. Carl and Martin, have you noticed any difference with the new splitter so far, and what kind of difference do you expect as the season goes on?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: I haven't seen a big difference in it yet. Again, we've only done a little bit of testing with it. We haven't obviously raced it yet. I think we'll learn a lot about it this afternoon if we get in the draft. I think a lot of things will be different about the way the cars pull up and are able to push cars in traffic, things like that. We'll have to just see what happens. In the testing we've done it hasn't been -- like I said, it hasn't been a big difference. It's a little bit more solid when it hits the ground I feel like, but very, very similar.
And I believe the stuff that we've seen from the wind tunnel is very close aero-wise, too.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I haven't done enough testing with it. I just think it looks great. It looks a lot more like the cars we drive on the street, and I think that's good.

Q. Either one of you, you're talking about it being wild and other people have said that the racing is just going to be crazy and all. You could make an argument that it's already been like that at Daytona. Is it possible for there to be an appreciable more amount of wildness here? Is it going to seem that much different or that much more than what we already have in restrictor plate races?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, it's going to be more along the lines of a Talladega race. There's going to be no stringing out, there's going to be no handling where guys have to start lifting and it gets double file and then it gets single file, the long runs. The pack is never going to get spread out. Green flag pit stops may obviously come into play a little bit because that tends to make two or three different packs, but if everybody decides that they're going to race and try to stay up front and not lay back and try to save their stuff, it's going to be a big huge pack, and everybody is going to be in it all day long, and it's never going to -- it's just never going to separate. So it'll be constant three wide, four wide. There will be no chance to catch your breath and relax at all.

Q. Sort of a two-parter. Bristol will be the first short track on the circuit. How do you prepare to race at Bristol say versus training at the other tracks? And then the second part of that is try to describe what it's like to be in the middle of the action at a Bristol race.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, it's always strange to go from running the superspeedways to your first short track race of the season. Things happen a lot quicker, it's a lot different style of racing, and Bristol is just fun in general. It's one of the most exciting racetracks we go to. The fans love it, the drivers love it. It's really neat to be in a good race at Bristol because there's just a lot going on. It's really fun as a driver.

Q. How about from Martin's perspective?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Yeah, Carl kind of hit it. It's just a really exciting place to race. The pre-race is just incredible. You really feel the energy of the crowd. The stadium kind of feel around you. Obviously a great place to race, especially since they redid the racetrack. You can run the top, you can run the bottom, you can run the middle. It's a really, really fun place to race for guys that came from short track, which we all really did. We all enjoy that kind of thing. It's awesome.

Q. I know just looking out on the track it's so smooth just looking at it. When you guys get out there do you miss the bumpiness, the integrity of that old track?
MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: A little bit, yeah. I liked the old Daytona but obviously there was holes in it, so it wasn't good enough to race on. This is going to get bumps in it, too, it's just going to take a little bit of time. The track hadn't been paved since it was like '78 '79, something like that, so it's going to wear out. We're in Florida; it's going to turn gray, it's going to wear out, it's going to lose grip and it's going to get bumpy as it sits. It's cool that racetracks range as you come back to them each time. It's a constant moving target for us, and it's a challenging thing. So it's fun.
CARL EDWARDS: I thought the neatest part was they sent us a piece of the old racetrack. That's pretty cool to get in the mail. To think of everything that happened on that old pavement and to have a piece of that at home was really special. It's definitely a new day, and the track is -- the paving job is as beautiful and perfect as it could be. I mean, I know we've answered a number of questions about the racing, but I just think we all agree it's going to be one of the most spectacular Daytona 500s that I'm sure we've been a part of.
THE MODERATOR: Martin, Carl, we thank you for your time. We wish you all the best during the test and good luck during Speed Weeks and during the 53rd running of the Daytona 500.

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