Q: Tell everybody about your run out there.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, obviously I’m ecstatic. I think I told Sherry last night I’m a little bit nervous about today because I’ve come here and run very well really ever since I’ve been driving the NAPA car, we’ve been really fast and raced really well. I think every single year we’ve gotten spun out at some point, probably late in the race, and when we were up front. So today I was a little bit nervous going in, but after the first 15 or 20 laps of the race we settled in and the car really came around, came to me, and I think we made one adjustment on air pressure in the first pit stop, and from there on out the car was phenomenal all day long, and I was able to really settle in and focus on hitting my marks. The pit strategy obviously worked out perfectly. We were able to get some track position, and once I was near the front and didn’t have to run the car 110 percent I could run 99, 100 percent, it just would stay with me in the long runs so good, and I just was able to drive away from pretty much anyone.
Just proud of Chad and proud of my team and so happy to get NAPA into victory lane. This means so much to me. They’ve stood behind me for the first three years of our deal, and I can’t even tell you they’ve been such huge supporters or ours and so has Michael and Rob and TRD and everybody that makes this deal happen. I’m just so proud today, I’m able to put Chad and all my guys in victory lane because they work so hard and they do such a great job and there’s been countless times where they deserved to win the race and for some reason it just didn’t happen. That’s the biggest thing about today, just proud to get all those folks into victory lane. Obviously for me it’s just – you know, it’s quite a relief to be honest. I don’t know what else to say. Just a special, special day for me. It was a lot of fun today.
Q: Today’s winning crew chief Chad Johnston is also with us. You finally got that win. Tell us how your day went.
CHAD JOHNSTON: Like Martin said, we didn’t have the practice that we wanted Friday. We didn’t feel real confident that the car was where we needed it to be. And obviously we had our issues in qualifying and the guys did a great job of replacing all the wiring in the car from an incident in qualifying.
It’s typical road course racing. You set your strategy before the race and you stick to it. But you’ve kind of got to adapt as the cautions come out and you make the decisions based on information you have and hope the cautions fall your way, and today they did.
It’s an awesome feeling to get all the guys that work on this NAPA Toyota into victory lane. There’s not a better bunch of guys in the garage. I wouldn’t replace any of them with anybody in the garage. It’s nice to get them, get NAPA, get Martin back in victory lane, and it’s just a good day.
Q: We also have our team owner Michael Waltrip. That’s back-to-back Sonoma wins here for you. Tell us about your weekend.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: It’s been great. I was real confident that Martin would run well today. I’ve just seen him run on this track, and he understands how to get around here as good as anyone. So I’ve been confident all week coming here about how we’d perform.
I just checked my phone, I have 68 messages from people, and the last one was from one of our employees back in North Carolina, Bobby Kennedy. He’s been with me since 2000 building cars, and he said I might be late tomorrow. (Laughter.)
There is a lot of people that – I don’t think I can articulate how important it is for us to get NAPA to victory lane. You know, they’ve been with me since 2001 when I drove for Dale, and we haven’t had them to victory lane since 2003. You talk about Martin’s breaking a losing streak; NAPA broke one bigger than that.
Michael Waltrip Racing exists because of some key cornerstone partners. One is NAPA; one is Aaron’s; obviously Toyota is the reason why I have a team; and then to have 5-hour Energy join us and let us bring on Clint, that made our team better.
It’s just really special to get a win for Martin and for NAPA. We knew – I believe in this man. He can drive a car as good as anybody on the track. Chad is new to the crew chiefing game. He joined as an engineer and he’s worked his way up, and he called the perfect race today, and he’s been on his game all year long.
It’s really fun to see these two mature, and I think they can do a lot of special things over the next few years.
Q. Martin, since you won that race at Dover you’ve had several heart-breaking losses, Atlanta, Kansas are the first ones that come to my mind. When you had the big lead today and you got 10, 15 laps to go, any negatives try to creep into your brain at all throughout those final laps?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: No way. He’s a different Martin. He said I’m going to burn these babies down.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I did. I was like, I don’t care what happens. It don’t matter. If caution comes out, that’s the way it is, we’re just going to have to beat them. But I was a little nervous about a caution.
But I just tried to focus and run laps at the speed that we needed to run, and Chad is really good about telling me how fast I need to run, and he was trying to get me to save a little fuel, and so he told me the lead I had and what the guy behind me was running, and I just tried to run a little bit faster than the guy behind me and make sure I was not burning my tires up in case we had a caution.
I kind of thought I had the chances. I thought we were going get one. But fortunately it worked out.
Q. Chad, same question to you: You’ve been there, almost there so many times with this team. Your thoughts on the final laps?
CHAD JOHNSTON: Yeah, surprisingly enough I really wasn’t too nervous at all. At that point you kind of made your bed, so you’ve just got to hope things go your way. If they do, great; if not, you’ve done your 100 percent that you can to put it in position to win, so you’ve just got to hope that they do.
These things aren’t easy to win. Every week there’s 43 guys out there that are capable of winning, so they’re not easy to win by any means, and everything has to go right for it to happen, and today the stars aligned and it went right.
Q. Martin, along those same lines, now that something didn’t go wrong when you were in position to win, do you think that that will –
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Hallelujah.
Q. Do you think that will help you mentally in the future, like if you’re in this position again and you’re not necessarily expecting it, that you know things can go right?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. And I’ll say that with no – without a doubt in my mind that some of those things that I’ve thought of when I was leading, and some of those things that happened, you know, me thinking about them is not what made them happen. But yeah, I definitely think that it’ll be easier for me to be leading a race, and I’ll definitely have less to worry about I guess is what I’m saying. It’s definitely a load off my shoulders, and who knows, maybe it will come easier now.
I do feel like – and I’ve felt like for the last year and a half, if we could just get one, if we could get this first one out of the way as a team, that we could do a lot better job and we could win a lot of races because we’ve been so good and so fast and Chad has given me race cars that are just phenomenal so many times in the past two years, honestly we should have won six or seven races already. The fact that we haven’t is disappointing, but at the same time it’s kind of motivating and it’s kind of awesome to come to the racetrack every week and say, chances are Chad is going to give me something that’s going to be a whole lot of fun to drive and it’s going to be really fast.
That makes my job fun. That’s why I race. That’s why I started. That’s how I got here, by driving fast cars and winning. So it’s fun to be able to do that again, and it’s even more fun when you don’t have to worry about crap falling out of the sky and hitting your car. Like yesterday, I’m like, oh, come on, again?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: What did you tell me yesterday, if it was raining, what?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No, we can’t say that in here.
Honestly we have had some very, very tough breaks and things have happened. We honestly really could have won three or four races in the past year and a half if things had just played out differently. But that’s part of racing. That’s the way it goes. And today it played out in our favor, and I was just glad that it happened finally.
Those days when things – when you do everything right and you don’t win it’s really frustrating, especially for him because you go back to the shop and you’re like, what could we have done different. Well, once you know the outcome you know what you would have done different. But at the time with all the information that you have all you can do is make the best decision, whatever you think is the best decision to help you win, and a lot of times we did the right thing, it just didn’t work out for circumstances.
Part of the deal, and hopefully we’ll be able to get a lot more days to go our way now.
Q. It sounds like you guys have been together, what, a year and a half, a couple years almost, and you’re starting to gel, and I think that really helps a team when they all get on the same page. But what I want to know is how is the Gen-6 car? Do you think it was better with the Gen-6 car, or what were the major differences?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Being here with the Gen-6?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, first of all, yeah, Chad and I have been together, I guess, going on about two years now, but he’s been the crew chief for a year and a half, I guess. It will be two years the end of this season.
But I have a lot of confidence in him, and when he tells me something, I say okay. I don’t say, well, I don’t know. I say okay.
Like today, we’re pitting now. Okay, yes, sir, here we go.
And that’s very important. It’s important for me to have that confidence in him and that trust in him, and to know when he makes a change in the car that 99 percent of the time it’s the right way, and I know he works harder than anybody in the garage. I can guarantee you that. So I’m proud of that.
But the Gen-6 car here was not really that much different than the old car, honestly. I think part of that had to do with the tire change. This tire had a little bit less grip than the tire we had last year. Track is another year older. Yeah, the cars have more downforce, the cars are lighter so they should be a little bit better, but I felt like it was kind of a wash. I felt like my braking points the way I drove the car was very, very similar to the way I drove the car last year. I think the lap times were very similar, as well. So it really wasn’t a big difference as far as that goes.
With Sonoma being somewhat of a slower speed track, obviously the downforce doesn’t come into play quite as much as the big tracks we go to. You kind of expect that. But not much different than what we’ve done here in the past.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I have a question. Did anybody ever hit you or did you have a moment or were you ever mad or just pretty normal day?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No. It was so easy.
Q. Any problem with the brakes?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No, my brakes were phenomenal.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: The weather really helped all those things, I think.
Q. Michael, you were coming in here confident that you’d get a win for NAPA, then the electrical problem. At what point did you know that the electrical problem was not going to be an issue?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: It was just a small problem with the cool box, and Chad is pretty smart, and they sorted through that in two seconds and knew that it was behind us, and the cool box that we ran today, that wouldn’t happen again.
As soon as I found out what it was, I knew it wasn’t an issue anymore.
But do y’all notice every week that the 56 is on the track it’s got NAPA auto parts on it? They’re one of the only sponsors in the whole garage area that sponsors a car every week, and they’ve been doing that since 2001. It’s a great day for them, and I’m thankful that we were able to deliver that win. I know I said that, but I just want to make that point, too, in case y’all didn’t have a story yet about it, maybe you could write one about the fact that NAPA sponsors a car every week.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: They’re only one of, what, two or three that sponsor a car every week?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I think it’s the only one. They have hospitality at the racetracks and they make these commercials that Martin and I are in. They really, really support this sport that we all love and make it possible for us to race our car. And I got a goblet.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: It’s mine, he’s just borrowing it.
Q. Martin, you’ve got to tell me the truth: As the laps were ticking down and you were getting away from everybody and the lead was growing, were you nervous at all? Was anything said on the radio?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: He would tell me my lap time, he would tell me my lead and he would tell me to save fuel. My spotter would tell me to drive it straight, take care of the tires, and I would tell me to drive it straight, take care of the tires and only run as hard as you need to.
Q. Were you running low on fuel?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No. He was telling me to save fuel, but I knew we weren’t close because he wasn’t like telling me to slow – I’m going too fast. He wasn’t like slow down more, you’re going too fast. Normally I know when we’re really close because he’ll tell me I’m going too fast. Slow down some more. He just told me be easy with the throttle, save a little fuel. He was pretty calm about it, so I could kind of feel that he was not too nervous and that we were okay. He just wanted a little in reserve.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: What did it feel like when he told you Juan ran out?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I will tell you this: With two laps to go, my engine sounded completely different than it had all day, and then he said Juan ran out and it sounded even more different, then I just put it in fourth gear and ran around the track.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: The mind is a powerful thing.
Q. Michael, Martin just said he felt like a tremendous load was lifted off his shoulder. Describe for you what that load felt like and now what it feels like?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, I will never forget, and this was a special moment that happened today, when I leaned in the car to congratulate Martin, he had just come onto pit road, and I leaned in and there were tears in his eyes, and you could feel the elation and the joy and the relief.
And as I did that, it took me straight back to 2001 when I finally pulled into victory lane and was able to briefly celebrate what was the greatest racing day of my career. I saw all that same emotion and the same feeling in Martin. I’m glad I got to experience that, and it reminded me of a special day, and it made me really thankful that he was – you’re looking at winners that are totally thankful that we’re here, and while your questions might seem repetitive at times and some of them not that great – no offense – but if you could just keep asking them for a while we’ll keep answering them because we love being here and we’re really thankful that we’re celebrating this win. Martin has got a beer and I’ve got a goblet.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: We’re not going anywhere.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: If you’ve got any more questions, just let us know and we’ll answer them.
Q. Martin, it’s so refreshing to have you in person and not on the cell phone this week.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Hey, thanks.
Q. Anyway, did you learn anything from Clint going into this? Obviously with him winning the race last year, were there any notes that you could use off of that team and kind of work together for the strategy, this run today?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Absolutely, absolutely. Even as close as this weekend we talked about it a lot, and he helped me with a few things. I had a few questions for him about some shift points and a couple little things. There was a couple spots on the track in practice where he was really fast, and he definitely helped me out with that.
He’s been such a great teammate since he’s came to Michael Waltrip Racing. Him and Mark and Brian when he runs, even though it’s very part-time, great teammates, Rodney Childers and all the 55 guys and Brian Pattie, all the 15 guys and our guys, they work together so great.
Last year we had a lot of new things come into Michael Waltrip Racing, but one thing, the biggest thing that helped us get to the Chase for the first time and win races and be competitive and almost have Clint challenge for the championship was teamwork. I’m very thankful for Clint and Mark and Brian and everybody that’s been a part of our team for all the help that they’ve given me and vice versa. It’s been so much fun to work with those guys.
Clint is obviously a character, but he’s really good at what he does, and it’s been really fun to lean on him and talk to him about racing and see his insight on how the races are going to play out before they even happen. So yeah, he was a big part of us winning today. He had a great car all weekend long, and we kind of went different directions on setup. He ran one and we ran the other, and obviously our setup and our pit strategy worked out a little bit better than his. But he was definitely a big part of this win today.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Yeah, and he was also probably the second-fastest car. He was really coming at the end. I’m glad Martin said that because there’s tracks where Martin excels and Clint really leans on Martin to understand what he does, and there’s places where Clint is really good and Martin does the same with Clint. They’ve helped each other. Our driver lineup at the beginning of 2012 with Mark Martin and Vickers and then Clint joining Martin Truex, it made us all better. It made Martin better because he’s not, he ain’t too proud to beg. He’ll say what are you doing, how are you doing that? And it’s really, really a fun thing to watch. As we get better and better, they just keep making each other better.
Q. Martin, following up on that, what’s been your comfort level on road courses? I know you’ve had a Nationwide win back at the old Mexico City track, and since then it’s kind of been a mixed bag here. What’s been your experience with road courses and how do you feel competing on them?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, I really enjoy them. I always have. I said earlier that I feel like I probably run consistently better here than Watkins Glen, even though Watkins Glen is my favorite road course – well, maybe not anymore. Since I started driving the NAPA car we’ve been really competitive here. We’ve been very fast. The past couple years every time we get up front, we run up front, we race up front all day, last year we were running second or third and the caution came out and then we got a bad restart, we got shuffled back to seventh or eighth and we got spun out, and the year before that we were running second or third and got spun out, the year before that we were –
We’ve always typically run very well at this racetrack and Sherry reminded of that last night, because I was a little bit nervous about my car. She’s like, why are you nervous? You’re always really fast there, and I’m like, yeah, but I always get spun out and it pisses me off. But today we didn’t get spun out, and I feel like we’ve been consistently very good at this racetrack. But today we were able to put it all together. I do love the road courses. They’re a lot of fun. It’s neat to do something different a few times a year.
The first racing I ever did was on road courses, so pretty cool to be able to get a win here today.
Q. I have three questions for Michael. One, did you foolproof it so you don’t break the goblet this year? Okay, I see that you have. Two, what has Michael Waltrip Racing done to become such a road course racing powerhouse after sweeping this race for two years in a row? And three, are you any closer on anything with the 55?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: One, the goblet is very fragile, so one must treat it that way. Clint was a little bit reckless with it last year, and he broke it, not me. But I’m going to make sure this thing gets right back to North Carolina for Martin, or however it works out.
We’ve done a nice job with road racing, but I think there’s a couple of reasons. One, we just have better cars than we had in the past, and so our cars, thanks to the support from Andy Graves and all the folks at Toyota Racing Development, the guys that tune and build the engines, our engines were flawless this weekend.
The drivability of an engine is a big part of the setup on a road course. If you can’t squeeze the gas down you can’t go anywhere. It’s just that hard to get 830 horsepower to the ground so the guys really have to ease the gas down, and Toyota, TRD, took a little heat a couple weeks ago, but our engines are great and today our the engine was exactly the way it needed to be to win this race.
I think if you want to say what have we done, Clint Bowyer really made us better on road racing because of how fast he is and how well he’s able to squeeze the gas down, do all the things it takes to be successful here.
The equipment is a lot better, but secondarily, Clint I think coming over made us better, and that’s fun to see.
I exaggerated. I know what you asked for two questions, but I forgot the third one.
Q. The 55?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Oh, we want Brian Vickers to be a part of this organization going forward. We believe in his ability and we love him as a person. He’s our guy, and we’re trying to get all the pieces of the puzzle put together so that he can drive the 55 and race for a championship next year just like Clint and Martin Truex Jr. are doing this year. That’s our goal, and hopefully over the next few weeks or months we’ll be able to say exactly how that will work. But we’re very confident that our partners at Aaron’s that have been with me since 2000 and this organization since its inception will be back with us and help us to fund that 55 car so that we can race for a championship with three cars next year.
Q. Martin, there’s been a lot of talk about this being a relief, and I just was curious for you, which is the bigger relief, the fact that you ended a nearly six-year winless streak or that you were able to win for a team like Michael Waltrip Racing that you joined that had already shown the possibility that you could win but hadn’t yet? I mean, you obviously have come very close in the time that you’ve been at MWR.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I think all of the above. I think, again, the part that meant the most to me, though, was getting the NAPA car in victory lane and getting Chad and his team and our team in victory lane. They’re so deserving. They’ve done such a great job. I think that the feeling I had was probably secondary to getting those guys there and kind of accomplishing that and getting a lot of the pressure off of them and a lot of – I don’t know, pressure off of the company itself as far as NAPA is concerned. Those guys deserve – NAPA, again, being the only sponsor in the sport that sponsors the same car each and every week, we’re so lucky to have them as our sponsor. They do so much for us. They’re so supportive of me, so supportive of our whole company. As Michael said, without them there wouldn’t have been any Michael Waltrip Racing. Without them I don’t know where I would be today.
So all those things, those were the first things I thought about when I first crossed the line was I finally did it for all these people. I don’t think it was most important – I wasn’t first in the things I thought about. I wasn’t like finally it went my way. I was like, finally I did it for all these people that have done so much for me.
Q. Martin, Jim’s question was kind of like this, but at this level anybody who goes as long as you had without winning, whether fair or unfair, rumors start about whether his job is on the line, especially as you say with a sponsor as big as NAPA that’s been with you all this time, been with Michael Waltrip all this time. I think Michael kind of answered that there was no problem there, but is it good to kind of end those rumors that start when a guy goes that long without a win about is his job safe, is he still going to be there or are they going to replace him?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don’t know, I never heard that. Did you?
No, I guess the “I told you so” is always a nice kind of feeling to have, but that wasn’t – again, that’s not why I do I what I do. I love racing cars. I love driving for Michael Waltrip Racing because of the reasons I talked about. I knew we were going to win. I knew it the day I went there, and I told people the day I went there, we’re going to win again. I’m not done winning. And yes, it’s taken a lot longer than I thought it would, but there’s been days where we were good enough to win, it just didn’t happen. And those days you can’t say, well, he’s never going to win; he’s not good enough.
It’s absurd. If you’re good enough to run up front each and every week, if you’re consistent enough to lead a lot of laps, if you can dominate races, even though you don’t put it all together, it doesn’t all come together and go your way, it doesn’t mean you’re not capable, and that’s what we look at each and every week. Chad preaches it to me. Michael does the same.
But at the end of the day this sport is all about winning, and it feels damned good to get this thing out of the way and get to victory lane.
Q. Martin, this might be redundant, you may have just answered it, but what variables helped you manage all those emotions and frustrations when you leave the racetrack and you finish second again and you wonder if it’s ever going to happen again?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: My support group, Sherry, my team, my family (tearing up), all the people that are special to me. It’s difficult. There’s been days when I was like, this sucks. This isn’t any fun anymore. But again, the past couple years have just been great, and I just owe so many people thanks. Just proud to be able to do – proud to be able to work with this group of people and thankful for the opportunity.
We’re all very lucky to do what we do, to do this and to get to do what we do, and to get the opportunity to win races at this level, I’ve already accomplished more than I ever thought I would. It’s just a lot of fun to be able to run good and try to win races. And I think that for us, we’re just really starting to come into our own. There’s no limit to what we can do. We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the people, and we’ve got the people behind us that we need to keep pushing us forward.
Hopefully we can do this a whole bunch more times.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I got a text from Bobby Kennedy, and he said, I’ll definitely be late.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I ain’t coming in tomorrow, either. I got news for you. (Laughter.)
Q. For Michael, on a serious note, Dale Earnhardt stuck with you for a long, long time while other people might have scoffed. How does that influence you to stay with Martin or anybody else?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I built my team with Dale in mind. He lives with me. He’s part of who I am because I just appreciated who he was and how he went about things. People worked on his cars at Dale Earnhardt Incorporated before I got there. When Dale would walk by you could just tell people were thinking, these are Dale Earnhardt’s cars. He don’t have to have a team, he could be off hunting or fishing but he loves cars and he has a team.
I always wanted a team because of a few people. My brother, he had a team when he was racing for Junior Johnson that he had behind us in Charlotte that was just a little Nationwide team, and I was the same way, and Dale was a lot of – he was the inspiration for who we are today. We tried to build a cool shop like he built. I try to motivate and inspire people by showing them how much I love this sport and love this organization.
I had a special moment today when I got to lean in to Martin and see him crying over winning because that’s how important this thing we do is. So it took me back to 2001, and while that was a really tough day, it was also a special day for me because I’ve learned something over the years. If I’m running third in the Daytona 500 and Clint and Martin are going off to win and that’s the end of my road, just know I went away happy. That’s how I live with what happened to Dale is he was watching me and Dale Jr. go do what we did, and he’s like, this is a pretty damned good day.
I hate to bum up the moment, but damn, it was really special for me to see Martin today.
Q. Martin talked a little bit about how he remained pretty calm towards the end, not worrying about a caution. How about you? Were you watching the monitor? There was some action behind him over the last five or 10 laps.
CHAD JOHNSTON: Not so much watched the monitor but listened to the scanner feed from NASCAR. When there’s going to be a caution they start talking about it, so there was people chattering and people calling in cautions, but typically you can look at the scoring monitor and find out what’s real and what’s not based on who’s coming out of the debris. Like you said, you made your bed, so at that point it was what it was. We pitted and topped off with fuel, and I had already made the decision that no matter what we weren’t coming back. So you just had to hope that it went your way, and if it does, great, and if not, you’ve got to find a way to overcome it.
Q. Martin, it’s your birthday this coming week?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Next Saturday in Kentucky.
Q. How are you guys going to celebrate this one?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: That’s a good question. Yeah, probably win Kentucky. We’ll worry about my birthday next week because we race Saturday night, too, so we race on my birthday next week.
Celebrate? Heck, I don’t know, we’ve got a long flight home. I’m going to find me a cooler to stock. Already done, see? I got some friends riding home with me tonight, and I don’t know. I’m not sure. Big party at my house tomorrow, I guess. I don’t know. I’m not sure. I haven’t done this in a while. I used to do this a lot, right? But I’m kind of out of practice, so I need to get back home and figure it out.
I’m sure my phone is just completely blown up right now with text messages and phone calls and all that stuff, so I can’t wait to go get it and see who – I can’t wait to call my mom and dad and see who’s texting me.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I guess I’d better text you.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: You’re right here. You’re right next to me, so you don’t have to text me. We already talked.
Q. Martin, obviously it was an emotional win – whose goblet is that by the way?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don’t know. It’s ours.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: We have a rule if someone has something that someone else likes, we just get another one. I wanted that trophy a year ago because it was really cool.
Q. Obviously it was an emotional win. What were your thoughts when you took the checkered flag and the cool-down lap? What was going through your mind?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don’t even know. I was like – I was a frigging mess. Seriously, it was terrible. I had to stop and start doing donuts because I couldn’t think about what I was doing. I tried to cue the radio once and I couldn’t even talk. I thought, okay, I’m going to do some donuts and wave to the fans. But after I stopped the first time and did that, I calmed down a little bit and I just wanted to make sure I took my time coming back because I remember at Dover it all happens way too fast. You never know when you’re going to get that opportunity again.
So I made sure I at least destroyed both my rear tires, took my time and waved to everybody, got the checkered flag and came back slow. I told them on the radio, if they’re waiting on me, too bad, I’m taking my time. That’s the only thing I thought of after I got it together. But when I first crossed the line I just was screaming. I don’t even know what I was saying on the radio. No idea.
You can’t explain the feeling. When it’s been that long and you worked so hard and you’ve been so close and so many things have just – when you think at times, man, is this ever going to happen again, it’s just – you can’t explain the feeling. It’s pretty surreal. Unbelievable.
Q. This question is for Chad: Martin said earlier that when he’s on the radio he’s yes, sir, no, sir, right now. Chad, how are you going to keep his ego under control now that he’s won?
CHAD JOHNSTON: First off, if you’ve tuned in any time, it’s not always yes, sir, no, sir. It’s what did you do that for. But no, I don’t have to worry about it. He knows what he’s here to do as well as all of us. It’s to come here and go to the racetrack every week and win every week. I told him my goal is to make him win so much that people didn’t like him. That’s what we’re out to do.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Well, you’re off to a bad start.
CHAD JOHNSTON: Yeah, I know.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: There’s still a lot of people that don’t like me.
Q. Chad, the setup yesterday was hotter, and today it was cold, and then you had a little bit of rain. How did you handle the setup?
CHAD JOHNSTON: We talked about that this morning. I’ve never raced in Sonoma when it’s been overcast and cool, it’s usually hot and slick. It was hot and slick Friday during practice, so I really didn’t know which way it was going to go. I kind of anticipated that it was going to have more grip and he was going to drive it harder and it was going to get slicker faster, but he did a really good job of managing his tires and keeping his tires on it. We knew before we ever came here that that was going to be the determining factor of who was going to win the race, was who maintained their tires the best and who kept their car in good shape for the end of it for a late caution that we didn’t get.
There really wasn’t much difference. We knew what our trouble areas were and we knew we made some adjustments after Friday to try to fix those for yesterday, but we were kind of smoked out so we really didn’t know what we had during qualifying. But he did a good job of making the lap that he did even though there was smoke billowing out of it. We just made the normal adjustments and tried to anticipate it the best we could. We didn’t have any data to go off of because we’ve never raced in Sonoma when it’s cool and overcast.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: We used swag, mojo, scientific wild-ass guess. (Laughter.)
CHAD JOHNSTON: Yeah, I use those a lot.
Q. Michael, you talked about it’s not always easy to put a team together. Michael Waltrip Racing is a complete team. What has been your plan to make it so?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I was just real fortunate that when I started a team I had – I was more of an entrepreneurial visionary kind of guy, and after about two months of racing with me sort of in charge, we were out of money, and it wasn’t looking good. I met Rob Kauffman, and Rob is my co-owner. We’re partners at Michael Waltrip Racing, and he’s a genius in the business world and understands how to run a business properly. We partnered together, and since he showed up in ’07 until today, we’re best buddies.
He is the key to our survival. And between me and him, we came up with a plan in early ’11 of how we were going to make our cars better, and it meant some changes at MWR, but our plan was solid, and with the support of Toyota we made our cars better and gave him a chance to do what he’s doing now.
It’s a partnership in the truest form, and Rob does a lot of things really well that I don’t know how to do, and I do a couple things really well that he lets me do. I’m really thankful for Rob because without Rob my dream would have ended before y’all ever would have known that we had the potential to do what we’ve done.