Bristol II: Pole winner interview

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 POP TARTS/CARQUEST IMPALA SS THIS IS YOUR 46TH CAREER NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES POLE, WHICH PUTS YOU IN A TIE WITH JUNIOR JOHNSON FOR NINTH ON THE ALL-TIME SPRINT CUP SERIES POLE WINNER'S LIST. IT IS YOUR FIFTH POLE IN 2009....

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 POP TARTS/CARQUEST IMPALA SS

THIS IS YOUR 46TH CAREER NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES POLE, WHICH PUTS YOU IN A TIE WITH JUNIOR JOHNSON FOR NINTH ON THE ALL-TIME SPRINT CUP SERIES POLE WINNER'S LIST. IT IS YOUR FIFTH POLE IN 2009. THE LAST TIME YOU HAD THIS MANY POLES WAS IN 1993. THIS IS YOUR NINTH POLE IN 42 RACES AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY. TALK ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING EFFORT TODAY

"Well I'm just so grateful to (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) and everybody on the No. 5 team. They did so hard and they want it so bad. And it's cool to be a part of their team and I'm grateful for the stuff that they put me in to drive. I have got a number of really nice laps qualifying this year. Not every lap can be like that and I was afraid that the law of averages was going to get me here and I was going to choke. And this is the one place where we don't need to be choking right now. We went out and instead of playing it conservative, we put it out there and got another good lap. But I'm so relieved that it's over with. I feel like there's a 200 lb. gorilla off my back right now. I was carrying it around there for about an hour and a half after practice. I knew we had a good car, but it's really close out there. And in order to qualify good you have to get a spectacular lap because you're driving against a bunch of other spectacular guys that are getting them too. So it's cool to have it in the books and all done."

THERE ARE A LOT OF BENEFITS TO WINNING THE POLE. WHAT'S THE BIGGEST BENEFIT TO YOU, RIGHT NOW BEING IN THIS POINTS CHASE, OF GETTING ON THE POLE AS OPPOSED TO QUALIFYING ANY PLACE ELSE?

"Just the possibility is a little less of being caught up of being caught up in somebody else's mess (laughs). It's not out. If you start in the back with a poor pit selection, you can do it from there. But it's made things a lot harder. So there are no guarantees."

IS IT A BIG RELIEF FOR YOU?

"Yes it is. And the flipside of that is that my choking, I'd be on suicide watch, okay? So, yeah. And the possibility of choking gets higher every time I lay a great one down. Sooner or later you slip. And I didn't want to go out there and run it too conservatively. And yet I didn't want to go out there and slip either. So I felt more pressure than normal to get it right. And I can't believe that I looked out and got another one."

UP UNTIL NOW IN YOUR SEASON, THINGS DIDN'T LOOK SO GOOD AND THEN THINGS TURNED THE CORNER. SHOULD WE LOOK AT TODAY AS ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE IN YOUR SEASON?

"I think you just look at the performance. I think that's what you really look at. Alan and I made a pact on Tuesday afternoon that we were going to let our performance do it's thing. And it that's not enough, then it's not enough. We do have the performance. And we can't let the things that we can't control, the racing gods, the luck, we can't let that tear us apart. Let's go out here and do it; do what we do and do it. We can't change the outcome. And that's what we're doing. We don't know who is going to have a disaster tomorrow night. I'm sure somebody is (laughs) and we don't know who that might be. But we came here and I'm very, very proud. I believe that every day at any race track, when they open the gate and let these cars roll out on the track, that everybody in the garage knows that they've got to watch that No. 5 car. And for me, that's enough, you know. That's probably not enough for my race team. They want it all. But for me, I've been around a long time and that means more to me than anything, that we've got that kind of performance that they've got to keep their eye on us all the time."

THROUGHOUT THE SEASON YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE POINTS. HOW ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT NOW?

"It's a real big battle. I mean it's a battle for me to keep all that in check. And it's mostly because I want it for my team. For all of you who have children, you never want your children to be disappointed or their hearts broken. And that's how I feel about the guys that work on my car. For me, man I've had lots of brutal disappointments and I care for them. That's why I want it so bad. They want it so bad and they dig so hard. And Alan just will never give up and neither will I. But we should be comfortable, but we're not (laughs). We should be comfortable in the point standings, but we're not. So, you know what? Mr. Hendrick told me again Sunday night, 'It ain't life threatening.' And that's the third time he's told me that this year. And that helps when you think about it like that."

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT IT'S LIKE SITTING ON THE POLE AT BRISTOL WITH ALL THE FESTIVITIES GOING ON?

"Well it's pretty cool; I wish it would just stay like that (laughs) for 500 laps. It's really cool. But that competition is over with now. It's really cool that we won that little competition but it's over now and now we've got a whole new thing and it's in some ways a greater challenge because there are more things that you can't control. We can control many circumstances in qualifying that we can't control in 500 laps. So, we'll focus on the race now."

-credit: gm racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup