Martin Truex Jr.
Newly-crowned NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. will return to defend his title next year for Dale Earnhardt Inc. He also will run selected races on the Nextel Cup Series as the company continues to groom him for a full-time job on the senior circuit.
Truex Jr. talked about the past season and what he expects in the future.
Question: What did you learn from driving two Nextel Cup Series races this year?
Truex Jr.: I learned a lot. 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 percent 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.
Question: As someone who came 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 Busch Series. What is your take 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?
Truex Jr.: 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.
Question: What is the relationship with your father, who was a winning car owner on the NASCAR Busch North Series?
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. 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.
Question: Your father literally got out of his ride in the Busch North Series so you could develop?
Truex Jr.: Yes.
Question: Ryan Moore has been signed to a driver development deal at DEI. What kind of advice would you offer him?
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 who are going to be around to help him. I don't think there's one thing I could tell him right now.
Question: What are your thoughts about the 2005 season?
Truex Jr.: I think we can get better in every aspect of our race team. We can get more poles, win more races and win by more points. That's what we're looking to do. If we don't get better next year, it's kind of a waste. We're going to work hard over the winter and get better in everything we do.
Question: You were building and racing Modified and Busch North Series cars a couple years ago. Now you're a national star. How does that strike you?
Truex Jr.: It's been pretty wild. When I started out, obviously nobody even knew me. Now it seems like every track I go to and during driver (introductions) all Dale Jr.'s fans cheer for me and that's a big step. They've treated me real well; I've tried to treat them just as well. I've got to do a lot of neat things off the racetrack with sponsors. I've got to do a commercial with him (Earnhardt Jr.) one time. I've got to race with a lot of older drivers I have a lot of respect for and can remember watching for a long time. It's just been different. It's been the most fun year of my life. A year and a half ago I was building race cars and racing them, trying to get a break, trying to get somebody to notice me.
Truex in 2004
Martin Truex Jr.'s first full season on the Busch series resulted in six wins and a championship for the Dale Earnhardt Inc. team. A look at Truex's young career.
2000: Finished 12th in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series and
runner-up to Mike Johnson for Rookie of the Year
2001: Continued to race on Busch North Series and also made his Busch Series debut in a race at Dover. he finished 38th.
2002: Made a total of four Busch Series starts for four different teams. His best finish was 17th.
2003: Made 10 starts on the Busch Series, including six for Chance 2 Motorsports, a team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2004: Raced full-time for DEI and won the Busch title. Also made two starts in Nextel Cup races.
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