Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, held a Q&A session in the Dover International Speedway infield media center before practice and discussed a variety of topics. MARK MARTIN No. 6 Viagra Taurus HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS TRACK?...
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, held a Q&A session in the Dover International Speedway infield media center before practice and discussed a variety of topics.
No. 6 Viagra Taurus
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS TRACK? "I think everybody knows I love this track. We're always excited about coming to race here. It's always been a race track that I love to race on. I haven't always had the best result, but since we've learned how to keep the air in the tires, we've had good results almost every time."
LAST TIME HERE YOU USED THE TERM OLD-SCHOOL RACING. HOW WOULD YOU USE THAT TERM IN RELATION TO WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK? "That's new-school racing."
DID YOU JUST TEST ONE DAY IN CHARLOTTE AND THOUGHTS ON THE TRACK? "As the test went on the track did get better. I was pretty apprehensive starting out the test. I was the first car on the race track and I was very apprehensive because I had been there on Thursday night and saw that they had a car show there. They had cars and stuff all over the race track and it's very possible the race track could have been cleaned better than it was. It was definitely the worst condition I've ever seen Lowe's Motor Speedway to start practice. As the test went on it did get better. We made wholesale changes on our race car as well. By the end of the test, as far as going out and making laps, was no problem for me at all. But it's still basically the same race track it was in May. The groove in one and two was in the middle of the race track in May. It will be on the bottom now, so maybe the inside car won't lose control and knock the outside car out as much in one and two, but beyond that we still have basically, for the most part, what we had in May. We had an incredibly fast surface with a tire that has to be so hard that if it ever starts to slip it's like being on ice once it starts slipping, so you've got phenomenal, unbelievable grip until it starts to slide and then it's very difficult to catch the car up. So it is what it is. It certainly got better. The doom and gloom was really swirling around there minutes after Tony's accident, but, obviously, it got much better by the end of the night. So as they put the Busch cars out there and run them side-by-side, the groove will move up some. It's gonna be a little bit tricky."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR POSITION IN THE CHASE AND HOW THIS TRACK WORKS INTO YOUR STRATEGY? "I'm pleased with our result last week. It was our first top 10 in quite some time at New Hampshire. That was an improvement. A big thanks to Jim Fennig and the guys over there for helping us out. We did use a test for that and it was a successful weekend. We come here with a tremendous string of just killer runs here. We'll have to see how things work out because one thing that you can count on is that eventually things will change. Eventually. Hopefully not real soon, like later and later. But, obviously, this is a place we run really good. The last I don't know how many times we've been first, second or third and I feel great about it. Personally, I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life and I want to say that right now. There are a lot of reasons for that. Number one is the fans and what they've done and how they've responded this year. How they've supported me has been overwhelming. My family, we have made a special effort. Even though we've had less time together than ever before to make our time together special, their support on what I'm trying to do really makes me feel good. The race team that I have is, in my opinion, the best in the garage. They're there, I believe, for me and that really is special. That's why they're together and that's why they're doing such a tremendous job. They're doing it for me, I think, first and foremost and that's an honor. And the performance on the race track has been really good this year. There is a lot of racing to go yet. You know I don't make predicitions, but I can guarantee that the effort from the Viagra team in the 6 car will be outstanding - like nothing we've ever done before. That doesn't guarantee the results. We'll have to see what the results do, but, certainly, the effort is gonna be fantastic."
DO YOU SEE SOME SORT OF CLOSED DOOR DRIVERS MEETING TO DISCUSS LAST WEEK? "That's an interesting question. We all can speculate on what might happen going forward. The amount of cautions that we have to start with is ridiculous. Some are for drink bottles and rollbar padding, which we shouldn't be having, but the others are because parts are falling off these race cars because they're wrecked. First and foremost, we need as a group to stop wrecking all the time. There's no point in that and, hopefully, maybe we'll make some headway with that. The respect needed to do that is hard to come by. Most of the wrecks are not with veteran drivers. At the same time, believe me, there's a lot of pressure in this business and I think people are feeling the pressure and think that taking the risk on wrecking is worth the reward. As a fan, which I'm gonna be before too long, I would like to see more racing and less wrecking."
CAN YOU COMMENT ON YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JACK AND THIS TREND OF SIGNING CONTRACTS A COUPLE YEARS AHEAD OF TIME? "The situation with Jack and I, first of all, we built the foundation of our relationship at a very different time in NASCAR racing. That's what makes it so strong today. We went through a lot of things that the newer folks don't have to go through at this point in time in NASCAR, so my relationship with Jack took a long, long time to get where it is today. It didn't happen in a year. It didn't happen in three years. It was a steady growth all the way up, I think, until his accident and then maybe even since then has even strengthened some more based on us continuing to know one another even better and feeling the loyalty to one another. Not everyone can have that and not everyone can be happy enough to stay, whether it be a marriage or a marraiging business, or a partner in business or whatever. I look at Jack as my partner. He's a partner in my career and I'm a partner in his career. Things are changing and everything is gonna be OK. This sport is in great hands, but things are gonna be different going forward."
SHOULD THERE BE A SENSE OF LOYALTY? "I totally appreciate what you're saying because you bring up a good point and it is the truth, but at the same time you have to remember that every individual has a personality and not everybody in the garage has made the kind of moves that you're talking about. There is a lot more money in this sport today. Even though the scale was much smaller, I was offered double what I made in the mid-nineties to go drive for another team who didn't look too bad at the time, the team didn't, but it's not here now anymore - just for example. You have to think about those kinds of things. There is a lot more money in this sport. There was always enough money in this sport to buy somebody out or to move around, and there has been plenty of moving around in the past. This is a high-profile thing that we're in now with big, big numbers, and a lot more people are watching, and you are gonna have people that make moves, whether it's for money - Kurt Busch still says that this was a career move that wasn't about money. He contends that there were other motivations. I'm telling you what he says, so you have to understand that there are individual personalities here and people do different things. There might be somebody that comes along that would be as loyal as I, a Carl Edwards for example, might be. Maybe not, I don't know. Or a Reed Sorenson or a Todd Kluever may come along, do really well, and show some incredible loyalty. That's possible as well."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE ROUSH ORGANIZATION THAT ALLOWS YOU TO SHARE EVERYTHING? "The first thing that comes to my mind, I don't know if it's humility or what, but the humbling experience I had in 2001 - that Matt Kenseth had in whatever year - the humbling experience that Greg Biffle had as a rookie. This sport can humble you really quick and you can find out that when you thought you were smarter than everybody and better than everybody, you can find out real quick that that's not the case. And I think that everyone in Roush Racing has gone through that, every driver and every crew chief has kind of gone through that in the last five years and have looked around and said, 'We really, really want to work together to make this thing stronger. We have to pull together.' We've been working our guts out since 2001, really unbelievably hard on making this thing work and working together, instead of individually.
"Prior to that, Roush Racing was much like any other multi-car team, each team worked individually to be better, instead of working together to be better. We've worked hard on that since 2001."
WOULD YOU AGREE WITH BIFFLE IN THAT ONCE YOU GET ON THE TRACK IT'S EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF? "It is and that's a very good point. You know I struggle with you guys all the time to try to explain to you that I don't feel that teammate is the proper term because I raced Rusty just like Biffle raced Matt because Rusty is my friend and I respect him. So I had to race him on the race track the same way that Greg did. Greg had to be extra careful to not mess Matt up, and I had to do the same with Rusty. We do work together. We do share information. We have this thing working the way it should work, but at the end of the day each one of us goes out on the race track and still races individually. If we give one another considerations on the race track, it's the same considerations we give our buddies because there are some guys out there that we like and there are some that we don't necessarily like. I have always treated the people that I really like on the race track with the same kind of respect that I give Matt Kenseth or Greg Biffle or Kurt Busch or Carl Edwards."
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON? "My spotter or Pat will say so-and-so is wild today, or even may have mentioned sometime along the way this year, 'Watch out for Carl. He's excited today.' It didn't go specifically for a teammate or non-teammate, it's just that this is reality. When we get on the race track we are racing and we all have different personalities. We all drive differently and we watch one another in different ways based on our driving personalities, I think."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHEN ALL OF YOU LED A LAP A FEW RACES AGO AND ARE THERE ANY NEGATIVES BEING WITH SUCH A BIG TEAM? "As long as I've been racing in NASCAR, 'Hey, tell Rusty I'm just trying to get five points, that's all.' As long as I've been in NASCAR, since 1982, you've asked and you don't get it from the guys that don't like you, OK? So I happen to like my teammates, so they can get a consideration that somebody I don't like might not, for example. Now as far as having five cars in the chase, we have done a great job of harmony and I think that we will be able to maintain that. I don't see any real negatives. It can get stressful as it goes down to the wire and we'll deal with that, but you know what? It gets stressful going down to the wire with Tony Stewart or anyone else. At the end of the day, the greatest teams in the greatest sports believe that the best man will win. That's how I look at it. If it goes down to myself and Greg Biffle or Kurt Busch or whoever, if it boils down to the very last race, yeah, I'm gonna want to beat them really, really bad, but at the end of the day I will accept defeat as the best man won this one from them as well and better in some ways than I would someone else because at least I can be happy for those guys because we all have great respect for one another. We're not sitting behind the scenes saying, 'I hope something happens to him bad.' We don't. We all honestly have good relationships and tremendous respect for one another and incredible harmony."
WHAT ARE THE PLANS FOR A 2006 TRUCK TEAM? "The first new truck is finished. I sat in it on Monday. I will be testing it a week from Monday and Tuesday in Homestead. Kevin Harvick has been so incredible in giving up the number six for the Truck, which I just can't believe. It's really incredible. The Truck will run the full schedule. I'm gonna run Homestead, so I'll be in all three races at Homestead, which was all part of the grand plan that has somewhat changed now. But it will run the full schedule. We won't have the number six until '06 and, at this time, we're looking at seven races that I will drive it to help refine the team and the whole truck program because we have some work to do there to get the truck program more competitive than what it is. Then, obviously, the truck will run - there's no announcement on David Ragan - but we will be looking at other driver or drivers to fill the seat and run the full schedule with the truck so that the team will really be ready in '07 and the whole truck program, hopefully, will be elevated for '06 so that they can get out there and win some races."
IS DAVID RAGAN A CANDIDATE? "Yes, David Ragan is a candidate to drive some of the races."
IS THIS THE SHORTEST RETIREMENT IN HISTORY? "That's funny, but I said over and over and over that I'm not retiring. So everyone that got on the retirement thing kept being confused because I continued over and over to say that I'm not retiring. I have no intention of retiring. I'm too young to retire. I'm gonna continue racing cars. I didn't know what I was gonna be doing, but I was gonna continue to be racing cars. I hope to be racing the full truck schedule in '06 and if that was to happen to not work out, you might see me at your local short track on Saturday nights because I'm gonna be racing cars, but I was not gonna do a full Nextel Cup schedule, and that was not something that I was interested in. Even a limited schedule was not as great of an interest to me as the truck thing. That's really what I want to do, but I'll tell you one thing, I'm in the chase and I have a shot to win this championship and I'm in it because of my heroes and they're the guys that work on the 6 car. Maybe for them even more than for Jack Roush, I won't let them down. They want me to fill the seat for one more year until they can be prepared and I'm not gonna let them down."
IS THIS A THIRD ROUSH TRUCK TEAM OR IS IT GOING TO BE UNDER YOUR NAME? "It is a Roush team. For most purposes I would say it would be a new team. I don't know that they can announce that they're gonna have three or two trucks just yet, but there's been talk of three trucks, although there may only be two. It's hard to say. It's so incredible to answer your guys' questions the last three months because if I would have answered your questions, they would all be wrong because I've already been wrong about a number of things. It's so unbelievable how much stuff is in the air and the pieces of the puzzle are just not in place yet. It's really a mixed-up deal now and there is a reason why announcements haven't been made. As late as a week ago things were swapping around and moving around. There is a lot of good stuff going on. There is gonna be a lot of great stuff within Roush Racing, but it's just not worked out yet because one piece has to fit in before the next piece can go in before the next piece can go in, so it's kind of a mixed-up time. I do want to say that that we announced the last time here about the sweepstakes presented by Viagra. Somebody is gonna win a Mark Martin Signature Series F-150 and we're pretty excited about it. So everybody should log on to MarkMartinSweeps.com."