MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed the Hall of Fame selections, if a driver can win the championship without winning a race, his thoughts on Talladega and ...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed the Hall of Fame selections, if a driver can win the championship without winning a race, his thoughts on Talladega and more.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE COMPETITION HERE THIS WEEKEND? "Well this is a great place. I don't know how many times I've said it's my favorite place. I can't imagine any place being better to go racing at. The fans here are always charged up. It's awesome to have all the teams, the majority of the teams based right here. It just makes for a real special feel. I just like racing on this race track. I always have since the first time I rolled out on it."
HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO LOOK AT THE HALL OF FAME SELECTIONS YESTERDAY AND WHAT YOU THINK OF THIS FIRST CLASS? "I was careful when they made the selection yesterday to not say something that was stupid. It kind of pleased me when I looked at all the comments today because I wondered about Pearson myself. I don't really have my finger on the pulse of a lot of things and the history of NASCAR I'm probably not as up on that as I am on current setups of these cars or something that pertains more to what I'm focused on because I'm pretty laser focused. So that being said I'm not strong enough to give you real good opinions about it. I would have liked to have seen them induct a lot more than five the first year because we really needed this thing many, many years ago. The old-timers and the founders and all that they need to be in there. This may catch up as we go forward but there are so many people that need to be in that hall of fame that I hope that some of my current buddies are still alive when they get inducted in. I'm serious. There's so many that need and deserve to be in there and I would have liked to have seen them take more than five. Also, who needs to vote Bill France, Sr. and Jr. in? They should have been a fixture in the beginning. That is the history of NASCAR. But the other thing that it does is make it very exclusive going forward. We're already talking about 2011. It's pretty cool. Like I say I'm not smart enough and don't have my arms around all of that enough to say other than certainly the guys that went in need to be in there, I just wish that we could have put another 15 in along with them. It's going to take a while to get all those guys in but it's exciting to finally have it started and underway. I just wish maybe we could have got it started a long time ago, many, many years ago. Even if we didn't have the facility that we have now if we could have had the core. There are so many core people that need to be in there."
IS IT PLAUSIBLE OR REALISTIC UNDER THIS POINTS SYSTEM FOR A DRIVER TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP WITHOUT WINNING A RACE? "Absolutely if you do what Juan (Montoya) is doing, yes. A little less likely than in the past but still very doable. We're only 40% into this thing and I know when I said before this thing started I didn't think you could average 5.5 and it looks like it's very possible again. It's just hard to believe that you can have that kind of average finish for 10 races. If you have something like that it's very difficult to beat that one. There's a lot of things to happen yet. Punctured tires, accidents, there's just lots of great stuff to go yet. We haven't even got started good in this Chase."
"I'd look at that in two ways. In one hand absolutely, score the most points you win. On the other hand, it would be a little bit disappointing especially if you had someone that won four, three and didn't pull it off. That's the same old story we've always had in NASCAR. I can't tell you how many times that a driver won 10 races and the two-race winner won the championship before the Chase. That would be the same thing in a condensed form. To be real honest with you whoever scores the most points wins no matter what and no matter how many stories you write about it, if a guy won without winning a race it wouldn't matter how many times you wrote about that guy winning that championship without winning a race he would still have the trophy."
FOUR RACES INTO THE CHASE IS YOUR MAIN EMOTION RIGHT NOW I'VE GOT GREAT RACE CARS EVERY WEEK AND I'M RUNNING GOOD EVERY WEEK AND I'M HAVING FUN, OR IS IT HOW IN THE WORLD AM I NOT LEADING THIS THING? "That's a very interesting question. I'm much more at ease right now than I was the last two months before the Chase cutoff. You know me and you know part of the reason why but I'm absolutely not focused on the tally after homestead right now. I'm just exactly what you said. Can't believe that I'm getting to drive this stuff and work with these people. We're just out there doing it. I felt like we had a great race in California and was not frustrated that we lost the point lead after having such a great run. I was proud of my team and proud of what we did. We have four races in a row that the kind of quality that I didn't think someone would be able to sustain. We'll see, we're only 40 percent in. We'll see if anyone including us can sustain that. We're off to a good start."
EVERYBODY SEEMS TO THINK THE NO. 48 MIGHT JUST CHECK OUT ON EVERYBODY BUT BRIAN VICKERS SAID YOU'RE THE ONE TO WATCH, WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THAT? "Well that's nice that he said that. Now we have to go out and do it. Like I said before, I'm really, really proud of this race team and proud to be a part of this effort. It's really phenomenal what we've been able to do. There's no reason other than just the odds that say we can't sustain what we've been doing. We've been doing it long enough and actually gotten stronger in the last 10 or 12 races based on our experience together. What Alan and I have going on is really special and the communication and the mutual respect and the way it is working. A thing I think that everybody should take note of is that one of the things I'm most proud of about Alan is I bet you he probably might be a little bit intimidated by me but it never shows and that's big. That's helped me as much as anything he could do is to not let me intimidate him and prevent him from doing his very best job for me. Not that I try to, I have been around a long time and a lot of times have gotten into situations where the crew chief gave in to what I thought or what I said to quick and I'm certainly not always right. We're getting it right together and that was my point. We are able to get it right so much we hope to keep doing it."
HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT TALLADEGA CONSIDERING YOU HAVEN'T WON THERE IN OVER A DECADE? "I refuse to be concerned about Talladega. I refuse. We'll go there, we'll try to not worry about it much and we'll strap in on Sunday and unless Alan asks me to take a different approach we will race as far forward in that pack as we can be every lap of the whole race. That's where I'm at right now. I'm not going to sweat it. Somehow or another I just feel lucky about this one. If you can wreck on lap five of the last one there something tells me I ought to be able to miss it this time. That's about as bad of luck as you can have. So I don't know. I feel like it will be okay. If it's not, it will still be okay."
JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS HAD THREE DIFFERENT REAR TIRE CHANGERS SINCE THE NIGHT RACE AT BRISTOL, ARE YOU SURPRISED IT HASN'T SLOWED THEM SOME AND AS A DRIVER HOW MUCH DOES THAT POTENTIALLY AFFECT TEAM CHEMISTRY? "It affects it in different ways. I think it could put the whole team on their toes knowing that your job is based on performance and you've got whatever your job is on that pit stop you better be getting it done because there's somebody behind you that is ready to take your spot. The thing that they work really hard at Hendrick Motorsports is having some depth. I don't know about the No. 48 but I know the No. 5 car has backups and they all practice and they all work and they're backups. That competition is tough. It puts a little bit of pressure on you but that's what this game is all about. There's pressure everywhere you turn. Am I surprised it hasn't slowed them down? Really not surprised because of what I explained. They look for depth in their programs and they look to have someone actually two behind the a-guy and the way you become the a-guy is getting it done in practice and then eventually getting it done in the races and you become the a-guy. That's kind of how that is."
WHY DID IT CLICK SO FAST FOR YOU AND ALAN AND YOU MENTIONED HE MIGHT BE A LITTLE INTIMIDATED BY YOU, HAVE YOU EVER GOT AFTER HIM ON THE RADIO AND YOU HAD TO SORT OF KEEP IT CALM? "No, I haven't really approached any kind of line. Most of the guys I've worked with in the last 10 years have been some intimidated. Not to say that Tony Gibson was because Tony got right in my back end. I'm not saying that Ryan (Pemberton) was but we weren't under the same kind of pressure that we were under this year trying to make the Chase and run for a championship. But I know over a period of time I have beat down some crew chief in the past and I realized that and when you get to that point you can't fix it. That damage is done so from experience I've learned too. I've learned how to handle things and in my frustration I still am conscious that will hurt me and I know that no matter how much those guys you, when you kick them and you kick them again I don't car I'm telling you it affects them. They can still love you but it's just not the same. I've been through all that. Don't forget I was 25 once too. I've had my struggles along the way and I'm just trying to help those guys that work on that car reach their full potential and encourage them and let them do what they can do. I'm proud, I'm proud of them because what we're doing on the race track is them it's not me. The only thing I've had to do with that is encouraging them and giving them opportunity to reach their full potential."
HAVE YOU HAD TO BE SORT OF A DIFFERENT MARK MARTIN OR MAKE ACCOMMODATIONS TO FIT IN WITH DIFFERENT CREW CHIEFS WHO HAVE DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES, DO YOU HAVE TO NOT BE YOU SOMETIMES? "I definitely had to check myself with Tony Gibson. We went to Atlanta with Tony last year and I told him this was the worst car I've ever driven and jacked him so far up that when Atlanta was over with I knew that I had made a mess of things. So from there on with Tony I was always calm, this is not working, we need to do this because I found out if I got excited and really got after him he would get excited. Then we'd be in trouble. It's okay if one of us is excited but if both of us get excited then we're probably not going to hit the target. So Tony and I really, really, really got good communication going forward from that. But I just had to be careful about getting him too wound up because he would make bigger changes than I would have under more calmer situations. Then we would miss our mark. Yeah in the past I've adapted how I deal with guys based on how they react to my input. With Alan it hasn't taken any conscious effort. My respect for him is so huge that I just can't see me getting wound up. There could be no way we could fight any harder than we fought to get into the Chase. Make no mistake that was something that you guys completely overlooked. For us to get in the Chase, that was big. To be 35th in drivers points, we were 34th in owners points, but we were 35th in drivers points after Atlanta and it didn't stop there. We had a few more little accidents too and setbacks as well. We already had our pressure cooker experience just to get into the Chase."
ON COMPARING THIS SEASON AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND 2005 AT ROUSH RACING: "Well for me you have to realize at that time in 2005 that was the best it had ever been as far as teams working together, multiple teams working together at Roush. 2005 was awesome and we had a lot of years where we had struggles with that, getting it that good. But that was the best year with the most harmony between all the drivers and crew chiefs. We had really good stuff. That's the way competition is in this things. You just can't stay on top all the time. The best teams, they get back on top more often or for longer periods or their off the top for shorter. Nobody can stay on top all the time because its competition. That's how it is. We were really at the top of our game there and really had things working. 2006 was a good one as well but the No. 6 car wasn't as on target as it was in 2005.
"With Hendrick it feels a lot like 2005. It certainly is the best I've ever seen a group work together off the race track to make their stuff the best stuff on the race track. It's still on the race track no matter how you guys like to cover it. On the race track we still race each other. We are still competitors. The special consideration that my teammates get my best friends get too, you know what I'm saying. You've got your friends out there, your buddies and they get the same special considerations that Dale, Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson get from me and there is not a lot of it because we're all competitors on the race track. Off the race track we work together to be the best."
-credit: gm racing