AUTOSPORT heard from Jarno Trulli about his NASCAR Sprint Cup test with Michael Waltrip Racing on Wednesday at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida.
Q. So are you ready now to go on the track with another 43 cars?
Jarno Trulli: I don't think so, I'm not ready yet. At the beginning it was quite a shock because switching from a Formula 1 car to a NASCAR is big, really big - especially the weight of the car, is big.
I think running like I did here is easy, but running with 43 cars is going to be different, so it would need to take a bit of time and experience. But nevertheless I'm enjoying it, step-by-step, to drive this car, which is moving a lot.
I'm used to a very stiff car, really on the ground. This one has a different way of reacting. In some way I would say it's easier for a Formula 1 driver because time reaction is like very slow here, so I can figure it out. But on the other hand there are a lot of little details than can make you go slow or quick and I'm off still from these details.
Q. Was it easier for Mika Salo to adapt because of his sportscar experience?
JT: Well I can't say if it was easier, because for the first time I jumped in the car, leaving the pits, I was closed for the first time in my life, closed in a cockpit. I was struggling a little bit. In fact, I kept doing lots and lots of laps, because I just need to get used to this feeling. Having your head out in the air gives you a different feeling.
Here you feel it is not fair, because I'm closed. I'm fine, I'm safe, slow, but it's a different matter. It requires quite a driving skill, feeling and understanding all the car and the tyres and the grip level. There are so many factors around that keep changing.
So far, from what I understand, you not only need to be a skilled driver but also a smart person. You need to be thinking about what's going on, so what you need to be changing, is it my driving style, the track is going off, the tyres. There are so many things.
Q. Now that you've driven the car, do you feel this is something you would like to be part of?
JT: It's very exciting. I guess this is not the kind of track where you want to race with 43 cars. It would be a bit difficult and tricky. I'm the kind of driver who prefers a more high speed circuit, rolling the car through the high-speed corner, let the car roll, not stopping it too much like here.
At least I had the test here, so I know what the feeling is and I'm enjoying it, I'm just enjoying it. It would be nice to enjoy the race, because Juan Pablo [Montoya] told me the race is even better because you keep fighting every time.
Q. So was this more a Toyota or a Waltrip test?
JT: It's a Toyota test as much as a Waltrip test. I have to thank a lot Michael Waltrip Racing, these guys who made it happen. At the beginning of last year I visited for the first time a NASCAR race as a guest of TRD, nice people; I met a lot of people. I met [Toyota Sprint Cup Series program manager] Andy Graves and I said well, it would be nice to do a test and it was Kyle Busch who wanted to do a F1 test, so we were trying to arrange a test swapping the cars and it didn't happen.
I was busy flying around. And eventually, with Andy and thanks to MWR this year I had at least a chance to test this car and I'm really enjoying this because it's all brand new. I feel like a young driver, that I need to learn everything from scratch.
Q. Can you imagine yourself racing in a bigger, quicker track like Daytona?
JT: I've heard that there are some speedways that are amazingly quick, difficult, and a big challenge. And this is something interesting for a driver. I've heard that it requires a lot of experience and tricks. I don't think you can step in and do it straight away but I think you can build up pretty quickly.
I think it's very important to have a team that teaches you, in order to get everything better and better, like today, I had Trevor [Bayne] here and I had several people telling me and my steps were rapid, quicker and quicker. I think if you have someone teaching you, I think you can make it. Make it means challenging the top people, because winning is another story. Is really difficult.
Q. You've been tipped as a favourite to land a seat with Lotus. Is that what you plan to do next year?
JT: I haven't signed yet, I'm in talks with several teams, and soon I will take my decision. You never know in life. I keep my door open, but definitely I'm dealing closely with some team.