MARK MARTIN, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO SS TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT HIS SCHEDULE, POSSIBLY FILLING IN FOR JEFF GORDON AT SONOMA, AND MORE: ON HOW LIFE IS DIFFERENT NOW THAT YOU ARE NOT A PART-TIME RACER, BUT NOT STILL A FULL-TIME RACER: "I'm ...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO SS TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT HIS SCHEDULE, POSSIBLY FILLING IN FOR JEFF GORDON AT SONOMA, AND MORE:
ON HOW LIFE IS DIFFERENT NOW THAT YOU ARE NOT A PART-TIME RACER, BUT NOT STILL A FULL-TIME RACER: "I'm loving it. This is the best year of my life. Really look forward to this summer and I am living a dream. I am able to do a lot of things that I never thought would be possible at this stage in my career."
ON GOING FROM A FORD TO A CHEVROLET: "It seems to be working out well."
ON FILLING IN FOR JEFF GORDON THIS SUMMER: "There is not any major planning right now. I expect things to work out perfectly for Jeff. I am really proud of Jeff to make his number one priority being there for the birth of his daughter. I really respect him for that. He is in a position to do that and it is an honor for him to ask me to help out if need be. It is a good situation for he and I, I know what is really important to him and we have a great relationship at Ginn Racing with Hendrick Motorsports and we are just going to be in position to help him out and try to give him a good solid performance."
ON HAVING ANY REGRETS ON MAKING THIS PART TIME CONSIDERING THE GREAT START YOU GOT OFF TO THIS YEAR: "No. No regrets."
IS THERE ANY TIME THAT YOU ARE SITTING AT HOME THINKING YOU SHOULD BE IN THE SEAT OF THAT RACE CAR, OR IS IT SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE JUST ACCEPTED? "If I wanted to be in the seat of the race car, I could be. I don't sit at home and wish that, because if that is what I wished, I would be doing that. I am really happy with what I am doing. I really love it."
WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU ARE MORE RELAXED THAN EVER IN YOUR CAREER AT THIS POINT? "Without a doubt. I am really happy and so blessed to drive for a great team, like the Army team and drive great cars and have a chance to win and be able to blend that with the things that I really want to do with my life at this stage of the game."
HOW ABOUT THIS RACE HERE? WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF SOMEWHAT OF A MARATHON MAN, BECAUSE YOU HAVE HAD SUCH GREAT SUCCESS? " I don't think so. I just really feel fortunate that I am with a team that can really give me a chance to be a contender here."
HOW ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS AT THIS TRACK, WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS RACE THAT YOU SEEM TO LIKE? " I have always run good here."
ON BALANCING FAMILY AND RACING: "I don't know really, other than you don't get a second chance sometimes."
ON THE TRANSITION TO THE CAR OF TOMORROW: "I think that is what the teams need. I think that it is important to focus on one particular car. If it is coming, the sooner is better than later."
HOW DOES THIS SCHEDULE FIT YOU BETTER THAN RUNNING FULL SCHEDULE? "Yeah, a full schedule doesn't fit me real well at this stage in the game. If I had to choose between a full schedule and not driving, I would choose not driving. I have got the opportunity to drive for a great team that has given me a chance to contend to win and I get to race when I want to, which is quite a bit, it's just not all of it."
HOW DO THE OTHER DRIVERS VIEW YOUR NEW SCHEDULE? "It's been varied. The ones that are older are interested in doing it themselves, for sure."
ON WHETHER OR NOT YOU FEEL THAT KYLE BUSCH IS DRIVING TOO AGGRESSIVELY: "That's not for me to say."
HOW CAREFUL DO YOU HAVE TO BE ON THOSE TIRES EARLY IN THIS RACE TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE AROUND AT THE END OF THIS RACE? "Same as you are every time you go on the race track, some are more careful than others."
WHAT DOES ADDING ONE HUNDRED MILES TO A RACE DO TO A TEAM, CAR, A DRIVER? "I don't think that it does anything to them. If you are geared up to do five hundred, you had better have enough margin in to do six. Whether it is your equipment or your driver or your pit crew or anybody. If you have only got five hundred and two miles in you, you don't have enough margin. I don't think that it is that different."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NUMBER 26 DRIVER AND HOW HAS HE GROWN? "I think that Jamie (McMurray) is an awesome driver. I am really glad to see that his year is shaping up to be more what he had hoped for than last year. They had a tough time last year. I think that a year like he went through last year really humbles and matures you."
ON CHEVROLET'S DOMINANCE: "Chevy teams are really getting it done right now, they are at the top of their game. They have a lot of really good cars so their odds are stronger because of their number of really great-running teams."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CAR OF TOMORROW COMING INTO PLAY NEXT YEAR? "It's a car that we are going to have to face in the future. Doing two different cars in two different programs is tough on the teams. Running it full time next year is really the best thing for the teams."
IS THE LEVEL OF RACING STRESS DIFFERENT THIS YEAR WHEN YOU ARE NOT RACING FOR POINTS VERSUS WHEN YOU ARE? "It is for me."
IS IT A MATTER OF NOT RACING FOR POINTS OR JUST NOT BEING SO MANY THINGS REQUIRED OF YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION? "Well the difference is, this is not my last chance to win a championship. For the last five years, it has been, in a lot of ways. 2002, that was my last best shot and we finished second. 2004, 2005, 2006 we finished fourth. Those were my last best shots. I don't have to worry about that any more. I have just got to race."
DOES THE MILEAGE OF THIS RACE ON SUNDAY PLAY A TOLL ON THE DRIVER? "I don't know, a day can be tough without going six hundred miles. Real tough. It all depends. They are tough, for whatever reason. Some of them are tougher than others. They don't' all have to be six hundred miles to be brutal, for all kinds of physical reasons, temperatures, how your car handles, all those things come into play.
So, it is more miles. It is a demanding race on you, physically and mentally but I have seen some four hundred lappers that would break your back too. That is not the only thing that makes them tough."
PHISICALLY, ARE THERE THINGS THAT YOU DO DIFFERENTLY FOR THIS RACE, BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING TO BE OUT THERE LONGER? DO YOU TRY TO TRAIN MORE? "That would mean that I wasn't doing all that I could do in the others."
NO IT WOULDN'T "Yes, it would. If I could do more for this one, then that would mean that I did not do enough for any of the others. If I did everything that I could for the others, I don't know how I could do more for this one. That is my point. I do every race like it is the biggest race of my career. That's how I address every race. You can't just sit down and have a bowl of pasta and drink a gallon of water and be more prepared than you were if you had just lived a healthy lifestyle. You have got to live it. I live it everyday.
Every race is important race. I am not the Dick Trickle guy that said that it's one hour for every hundred laps, so he had to get four hours of sleep for four hundred laps, but he only had to get one hour of sleep for one hundred laps. I am not that guy. That guy did prepare. He probably would have got six hour of sleep for a six hundred miler. See what I mean. I do everything that I can do, every time."
HOW DO YOU THINK THAT THE CAR OF TOMORROW DECISION WILL HELP SOME OF THESE OTHER TEAMS, SMALLER TEAMS? "I don't know, I don't know. Right now it looks to be more work than the old cars. I don't know how it helps. It is what it is, you know, that's what we are going to do, so let's get on with it. It may be the processes will get easier, but for right now it is pretty difficult. The car is difficult, for the teams."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TOYOTA CARS IN NEXTEL CUP? "I don't know, I think that they have struggled more than they have expected, but they will keep working and eventually they will get what they are looking for. I think that the kind of level of competition that they are working toward, they will get closer so that they move forward."
SHOULD THEY BE ONE OF THOSE TEAMS THAT WILL BENEFIT NEXT YEAR FOR THE FACT THAT THEY ONLY HAVE TO PREPARE FOR ONE CAR? "It will make it a little easier on all teams, to focus on one car instead of two. I believe that the processes will get easier, right now, they are way too much work, too much maintenance, the bodies are too hard to build, they are too hard to repair, too hard to keep going. I believe that will get better as we work with the car."
ARE YOU SURPRISED AT HOW RELATIVELY HIGH UP IN THE POINTS YOU ARE DESPITE HAVING THREE LESS STARTS THEN EVERYBODY ELSE? "Well I have run them all for several years and not been this high in the points, so I guess that speaks highly for what we have done while we were on the track."
DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR PERFORMANCE AND RUNNING A LIMITED SCHEDULE WILL LEAD OTHER GUYS TO THINK THAT MAYBE THEY COULD TAKE A RACE OFF EVERYNOW AND AGAIN WITH THIS FORMAT AND STILL WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP? " I don't know, you would have to ask them that."
IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIAL THAT YOU FIND ABOUT RACING AT MIS (MICHIGAN INTERNATION SPEEDWAY)? "I like the track. I love racing there. It is one of the most fun race tracks that we all drive on."
DO YOU PLAN ON RACING BOTH RACES? "Both races and the Truck race and the Busch race."
IS IT FUN BEING ABLE TO DRIVE FOR DIFFERENT TEAMS, LIKE YOU HAVE THIS YEAR, AND ARE THERE ANY TEAMS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DRIVE FOR THAT YOU HAVEN'T YET? "Of course."
DO YOU CARE TO MENTION ANY NAMES? "I wouldn't like to mention any names?"
HAVE YOU AGREED TO DRIVE FOR JEFF GORDON WHEN HE STEPS OUT FOR THE BIRTH OF HIS CHILD? "I did. Hopefully it won't come to that, but I do admire Jeff for his commitment to be there when his daughter is born. I think that is awesome. He's in a great position and it is an honor, a real big honor to me, that they though enough of me to really pursue me."
YOU ARE GOING TO BE IN SONOMA, EVEN THOUGH REGAN SMITH IS GOING TO BE IN THE CAR, IS THAT CORRECT? "I will be there. Yes, unless something happened and the baby came sooner, I will be there."
-credit: gm racing