CORNELIUS, N.C. — No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. celebrates his 30th birthday today (Tuesday) and couldn’t be happier with his life. He’s coming off a Truex-family win last weekend when younger brother Ryan won the K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire and Saturday big brother gets another shot at Daytona International Speedway —site of a career-best sixth-place finish in the Daytona 500. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver looked strong at both Daytona and Talladega restrictor plate tracks this season and should be a contender Saturday. Truex owns a victory at the historic 2.5-mile track winning the 2005 Nationwide race.
Truex on Returning to Daytona: “I cannot wait to go back to Daytona. We had a shot to win the Daytona 500. That’s all you can ask for when you go to those plate races. It’s all about making it to the end and having a shot. Our NAPA Toyota was really good throughout the whole race. I felt like we were one of the best handling cars out there. It’s all about handling when we go back there.”
On the Differences Between the February and July races: “I think it is going to be a lot different. We have a bigger plate and a spoiler now. It’s going to be really hot as usual. The slicker it is the harder it is to get a hold of the track. With the bigger plate and the new spoiler, if you can get your car handling, you can really make some things happen. We’re really not sure how the spoiler is going to change things. We ran it at Talladega. We saw what it did there, but Daytona is such a different track. Talladega is all about speed and not about handling. Daytona is the opposite. We are going to go there with an open mind and work on it in practice. I feel good about our NAPA Toyota and the package we are taking. It should be a lot of fun.”
Truex on Turning 30: “Time flies when you are having fun! It feels like yesterday that I moved down to North Carolina to run the Nationwide Series car. I was just 22 or 23 years old. Age is just a number. I don’t feel 30 so I am doing all right. Yesterday, I opened a present from NAPA. It was a framed picture from our announcement last year and that really means a lot to me. It’s going up in my office. They’ve really welcomed me into the NAPA family and it’s meant a lot.”
On the Truex-Family Victory: “It was a neat deal last Friday. There are now three Truexs on the winners list in the K&N Pro Series East at New Hampshire. I think it was really special for my dad. I was a nervous wreck. I want him to do well and enjoy what he is doing. It’s an exciting time for Ryan. He’s leading the East championship and is preparing for his Nationwide Series debut at Gateway.”
Saturday’s race is Truex’s 170th Sprint Cup Series race and 11th at Daytona. His best start at the superspeedway is first (Feb. 15, 2009) and best finish is sixth. (Feb. 14, 2010) During his career at Daytona, Truex has earned a pole, a top-ten and six top–20 finishes. His average start is 16th and his average finish is 20th.
In Nationwide Series competition at Daytona, Truex has driven in seven events. His best start is first (Feb. 14, 2004) and best finish is first (July 1, 2005). During his career, Truex has earned three top–five and five top-10 finishes. His average start is 11th and his average finish is ninth.