Toyota: Martin Truex Jr. Fast Facts and Toyota Executive Quotes
MARTIN TRUEX JR, No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How much of this season was for your girlfriend Sherry Pollex?
“A lot of it was for her. A lot of it was for me. A lot of it was for this team – just, I don’t even know what to say. We just never gave up all day long. We didn’t have the best car. I don’t know how we won that thing. Never give up. Dig deep. I told my guys we were going to dig dipper than we ever have today and 20 to go I thought I was done – they were all better than me on the long run all day long. I just found a way. I found a lane that I could use and I found a lane that was blocking enough of their air that they couldn’t use it and just made it happen. I can’t believe it. I’ve wanted this since I was a little kid and just never give up. Just never give up on your dreams no matter what happens and what kind of crap you go through and thank you Barney (Visser, team owner). I wish you were here, buddy. Thank you, Johnny (Morris, Bass Pro Shops), all our partners this year. What can I say about this team? Cole Pearn, Jazzy, all the road guys, the guys in Denver – you guys are the best, man. They work their guts out for me and I don’t even know – this is unbelievable, a dream come true. I don’t even know. I couldn’t even talk on the cautions laps, so just really thankful, really grateful and thank you to the fans. We’re going to party it up tonight.”
What does it mean to win this championship when you thought your career was near over at one point?
“It’s just overwhelming. To think about all the rough days and bad days, the days that couldn’t run 20th, to be here, I never thought this day would come and to be here is so unbelievable.”
What does it mean to you to have this fan support?
“Thank you guys so much for all your support – it helps us. It pushed us here tonight. It helps Sherry (Pollex) with her battle and positive info and positive mojo. We couldn’t do it without the fans and I couldn’t do it without this team and I couldn’t do it with Sherry and all her support. You guys here, NBC, FOX, earlier in the year. It’s just a dream season and I was going to be gutted if we didn’t win, but I was still going to know we gave it our all and luckily it was enough tonight.”
What was it like crossing that finish line?
“I don’t even know. I was a mess. I didn’t know – I couldn’t even talk. I was just, I was a wreck thinking about all the tough days, the bad days, the times where I thought my career was over with. Times when I didn’t think anyone believed in me. But the guys, the people who mattered did, my fans, my family and then when I got with this team – they’re unbelievable. They resurrected my career and made me a champion. I don’t even know what to say.”
What does this mean to your team and all the people back in Colorado?
“This means the world. Barney Visser (owner), eleven years of working towards this goal and he couldn’t be here tonight. We’re definitely thinking about him. We wish he could be here. I know he’s probably about as much in shock as I am tonight. But, Jim Watson, you know Cole’s best friend, Sherry (Pollex), everybody who’s battling something, this one’s for you guys. All my buds back in New Jersey. All my Wall Stadium guys back there, thank you. This is just, I don’t even know how to put this into words. It’s not sunk in yet. Tonight’s going to be a hell of a party.”
How does it feel to be a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion?
“I can’t event believe it. I can’t believe we got the lead. I can’t believe we kept it. We weren’t the best car all day long. We fought it. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) had some great pit strategy and the caution came at the right time to get us the lead and then they put it in my hands and I had to hand onto it. It’s all I could do to hang onto that thing and find a lane that would work for me and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and the 18 (Kyle Busch) were both better on the long run all day long. I just had to find something at the end and luckily was able to find a lane that was really good for my car, but also bad for them behind me and just worked out.”
What lane did you find when Kyle Busch was stalking you in the racing’s waning laps?
“It’s the dumbest lane I’ve ever run here, but it worked, so I have to put it in the memory bank for later. Just – I don’t know, man. Just all came together – it was meant to be, you know? What can I say? This whole year has been a dream year. It’s been meant to be all year long. We’ve got the team best in the world. I’m so thankful for them. We’ve got the best fans in the world and Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and everybody that puts so much into this and Bass Pro Shops, Auto-Owners, WIX, 5-hour, the list goes on and on of people that help us do this and make it all possible and Barney Visser (team owner) back home had heart surgery last week and we’re missing him today, but I’m just unbelievably proud and thanks to everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) for the chassis and cooperation and running one-two tonight was pretty awesome.”
How does it make you feel to know so many people around the garage were cheering for you?
“It means a ton. I’ve got to thank my mom and dad for all they’ve done for me over the years and teaching me how to do things right. My dad for making me work hard and letting me race because I worked hard, so thanks to him. I wouldn’t ever be here without him and thankful we got him one tonight.”
Is the comradery of this sport and moments like this that make it special?
“Yeah, that’s it. And Johnny (Morris, Bass Pro Shops) and everybody that makes this possible. This isn’t about me. This is about so many people. I’m just glad I didn’t let them all down tonight. We’ve had the best team all year and they deserve this and I’m just so thankful for all the help and these guys believing in me four year ago when we were running awful and just continuing to dig and find a way. They’re the best in the business – there’s no question – and I’m so proud to drive their cars and drive these Toyotas is amazing.”
COLE PEARN, crew chief, No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
How did you get this team together for the last race?
“We just focused on this race for a long time. We knew kind of if we were going to be champions, we were gonna have to get a lot better here. I can’t thank the number of hours that everybody put into this car and into this race. You know coming here and testing and there’s a lot of wives on our team that’ll be happy that this car made it and did what it did and it took every hour of it. We had to race three other great guys and the 18 (Kyle Busch) was really good there and to be able to pull it off. I think they were honestly a little better than us and Martin just, Martin was able to dig down and get it. Unbelievable. I don’t really know how to comprehend it at this point. Just so so thrilled. Those guys, to put the effort we have in all year and be able to truly call ourselves champions is unbelievable.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
How would you describe the finish tonight?
“Yeah, I mean that’s what happens when you lose in this format, but we gave it everything we had. We gave it our all, so congratulations to the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.). They deserved it probably on every other race but today. I thought we were better. Doesn’t matter though. They were out front when it mattered the most. Just unfortunate for us that that caution came out. It kind of ruined our race strategy and we weren’t able to get back to where we needed to be and then I had to fight way to hard with some other guys trying to get back up through there, but that’s racing.”
Where was this race truly lost?
“Battling with the 22 (Joey Logano) there. Just wasting too much time with him. He held me up. He was there blocking every chance he got, so got a real buddy there, but that’s racing. That’s what happens.”
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 DEWALT Hurricane Recovery Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 8th
What was it like turning those final laps in the 20 car?
“I didn’t think about much the last 20 laps except for trying to get by the 2 (Brad Keselowski) car to be honest totally honest with you. Obviously last week was a magical week or race – to win that race and then this week has been really fun. The pre-race stuff was really fun. I was glad Katie (Kenseth, wife) was able to get down here and all and having the kids here, my dad, my sister and everybody. It was really fun obviously what DeWalt did with this paint job and Habitat for Humanity, but doing my rookie paint job was cool as well. So it was a really cool day, but once you start the engine, really didn’t think about anything to be honest with you, except for trying to go out and perform the best you can and trying to win that race.”
What do you want your legacy to be on this sport?
“I always answer this wrong. You know, I don’t know. I think at the end of the day, people make up their minds. You know, some people are going to like you, some people aren’t. Some people are going to respect you, some people won’t. So I mean, whatever people think, they think. I did the best I could every week. Didn’t always do the right thing, that’s for sure, but raced as hard as I could and at the time I always felt like I was trying to do the right thing and gave it my all every time I went to the race track, so that’s all I could do.”
What will you miss the most about racing?
“Man, I don’t know. I guess the fans. You know, you hear them yelling right now and last week was really really neat when I was doing that backwards victory lap, the Polish victory lap like (Alan) Kulwicki did at Phoenix ironically. You could hear the fans screaming through the window and just all the respect that they’ve shown me the last couple weeks has been really really humbling, so probably, I’ll miss that the most.”
ERIK JONES, No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota Camry, Furniture Row Racing
Finishing Position: 21st
Talk about the season and accomplishing rookie of the year.
“It was a good year overall. You know we had a lot of good races and a lot of good things that we can look back on and be really proud of. I think back to the races we were in contention to win and shots we had – and it’s just nice in your rookie season to have that chance to win races. Wasn’t the night we wanted tonight, but definitely cool to at least get the accumulation of the year of being the best rookie.”
David Wilson, president of TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development), on the significance of Truex’s title:
“I am so incredibly happy for Martin – this championship is personal for us. Toyota, TRD and Martin’s history goes back to the days of Michael Waltrip Racing, so just having a second chance to race with him when he moved to Furniture Row Racing was special all by itself. Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn (crew chief) set this garage on its ear the past two years with their championship caliber performance – a combination of speed, strategy and consistency that was unmatched. This championship is also a testament to the very special partnership between Furniture Row Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and TRD. I’m proud they won the championship for Toyota with TRD under the hood. I’m proud to be on their team.”
Keith Dahl, motorsports general manager for Toyota Motor North America (TMNA), on Truex winning the championship:
“This championship confirms what we already knew – that Martin (Truex Jr.) is a talented driver and champion, a fitting title to cap what has been an emotional rollercoaster of a season. We’re fortunate that Martin and Cole (Pearn, crew chief) are a part of the Toyota family and proud they brought home a NASCAR Cup Series championship in the new 2018 Toyota Camry’s debut season is a fairy tale story for America’s best-selling car. I just want to say congratulations to Martin, Cole, Barney (Visser, team owner) and the entire Furniture Row Racing organization for winning their first championship.”
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
2nd, KYLE BUSCH
3rd, Kyle Larson*
4th, Kevin Harvick*
5th, Chase Elliott
8th, MATT KENSETH
9th, DENNY HAMLIN
21st, ERIK JONES
31st, COREY LAJOIE
34th, DANIEL SUÁREZ
39th, JOEY GASE
# Playoff contender
RIS NASCAR Editor. Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.