MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at NASCAR Media Day and discussed Danica Patrick, NASCAR safety, Dale Earnhardt, Sr and other topics.
REGARDING DANICA PATRICK: "You know its not so much of where you can slide these cars because you can slide these cars pretty much at some places and not so much in other places and if you think you are at one of the places where you can, and you do, and it's not, then it's not so good today. So you have to learn these things through driving them and one thing that you need to take notice of is that she has not wadded-up any race cars. How many newcomers come in and don't? You know? So give her a break. (laughs) You know she is really up against a lot. You know, it's a lot."
ARE YOU GOING TO CONTINUE TO COACH HER A LITTLE BIT WHEN YOU CAN? "I don't know. You know I am happy and I like Tony Jr. a lot. And I have a..............I care a lot about Junior Motorsports and my last Nationwide win came from that group and so we will see in the future. I have a full time job right now and that is what I have to keep telling people that I have a full time job and I kind of have to keep my focus and priorities there and we will see when we get further down the road what else I can do. I would certainly like to do more things in the future but for 2011 my plate is stacked about right."
MARK YOU TALKED ABOUT HOW THE CARS DRIVE BUT HOW HAS THE SKILLSET OF THE DRIVERS CHANGED OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS BECAUSE A DRIVER MAY HAVE TO DRIVE A CAR THAT IS NOT HANDLING AS WELL THROUGH A LONGER GREEN FLAG CYCLE SINCE THE AMOUNT OF CAUTIONS HAVE GONE DOWN? "That is very observant and I applaud you for being that aware. But you have to do that all through the years and all through your career you have to adapt to............the duty right now is different than it was a few years ago and it was different then, than a few years ago before that. And the very best drivers adapt to what the demand is quicker."
AS THE CARS CHANGE YOU HAVE TWO OPPORTUNITIES TO CHANGE. YOUR CREW MAKES ADJUSTMENTS BUT WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO AS A DRIVER? "It's coming back to me. The multiple-caution, short-burst runs were not my strong suit. My strong suit was long runs, green flag runs, managing the tires, and managing the equipment and making the stuff last. Well the equipment got so good that you don't have to make it last anymore although managing the tires can still be an asset to you if you manage them properly and if you can get everything out of them that you can get out of
them or getting too much and making them where they don't last and also that you don't underuse them in the beginning. So that's a factor but it's still coming back to my style right now. Green flag racing is still...........that's racing to me."
ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF DALE EARNHARDT AND HOW DALE JR'S FOCUS WILL BE FOR THIS RACE: "I think he can. I think he can handle it but I think it will be an additional stress and strain on him. But I think he can handle it and shoulder it. You have heard me say it before and I am going to say it again. This is the strongest set of shoulders in motorsports. And he gracefully carries the incredible weight and under the incredible circumstances he is a strong individual who carries an enormous amount and you know....I wouldn't want to be him. (laughs). But he does well with it."
INAUDIBLE QUESTION: "You know, I started racing when I was a kid and I have been making mistakes ever since. And I think you learn from your mistakes and I am not done making them but hopefully I will make a few less than I did early so...."
HOW MUCH SAFER DO YOU THINK THIS SPORT IS NOW? "Well the statistics show a lot but I am not convinced that the stats are just not in one of those conincidental phases where it looks really, really good. When you say safety, you think comfort. I don't think that there is a huge amount more of comfort with what we do but certainly the HANS device is and incredible light years move forward along with all the other little things that go along with that and then maybe the safer barrier being number two to the HANS device. But we didn't give safety a second thought when we didn't have those things to be honest with you and we don't give them a second thought really today. So it hasn't changed the driver's thought process, you know most of the guys out there don't know any better. And let me put it this way because that is not fair to say. What is fair to say is that they don't know any different whereas Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton, and even Jeff Gordon; we know, we have been there and we have lived it when there was a tire war, and we didn't have safer barriers or HANS and that was brutal and as long as I live I will feel the effects (laughs) from those days."
HOW MUCH MORE ATTENTION IS THERE ON SAFETY NOW THAN IN THE OLDER DAYS? "Its amazing and its just something that we didn't put enough thought into. It didn't have to be the way it was. The seats that we drove in were ridiculous......ridiculous.
"When I first came to NASCAR racing in 1981, the seats that were used in NASCAR racing were.......it was just outrageous. You know it could have been so much better but when you think back to when they raced without seatbelts.....(laughs) that was ridiculous too, so we were just in the stoneage.
"And where we are today, I just don't see where you can make big leaps and gains like we did with the safer barrier, the HANS device, and the seats and the headrests and head restraints."
NOW THAT YOU ARE A HENDRICK INSIDER, WHAT DID THE CHAMPIONSHIP LAST YEAR BY THE 48 TEAM TEACH YOU ABOUT THEIR CHAMPIONSHIP MENTALITY?
"Well that was impressive because they didn't have the speed that we enjoyed the year prior. But it didn't teach me anything that I hadn't already learned in the sport which is you know, magic is sort of intangible. Its not something you can reach out and touch and we had magic going on in 2009 and we had magic going on in 1998 and I am aware of it, and I am working hard to try and create it and maintain it through 2011 with Lance and my team."
-source: team chevy