MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus (Qualified 2nd) "I love my car. It was really good yesterday. We did all of our race setup last night. This is a place where we've been really strong at the last several times we've been here, so we came in...
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus (Qualified 2nd)
"I love my car. It was really good yesterday. We did all of our race setup last night. This is a place where we've been really strong at the last several times we've been here, so we came in here with a lot of optimism. It's going well. We are a race team, not a qualifying team. That's definitely not been our specialty here for the last four years or so, but we typically race better than we qualify. That will be a tall order based on today."
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Smirnoff Ice Taurus (Qualified 3rd)
"It was a good run. I was surprised by the lap speed because just to feel the car's handling in each of the corners. It seems as if it wants to race that way as well. We're pleased with it. California Speedway has always been a good track for me. I enjoy coming here, but I can't do it without a great team behind me. The Smirnoff Ice team, the group that have, everybody is still pulling together. It's been fun lately just to kind of put everything aside and go race and have fun. That's what racers like to do."
ALL OF THE ROUSH CARS WERE FAST THROUGH PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING.
"I guess if you're referring to the whole organization, all of the drivers and all of the crew chiefs on all the teams are just really doing a fabulous job. It's kind of amazing when you sit down and look at all five cars because they're all setup with what I would say are quite different setups. To be honest with you, I think Matt Kenseth may be the guy to beat here and he's the one that missed the top five. We could have had five in a row in qualifying, but Matt's team is a little bit like we are. He doesn't specialize in qualifying. All five cars should have a shot in the race, and it is a true testament to driver and crew chief and team because each one of us have decided that we like a little something different here this weekend for setup stuff, so it's not really a common setup that we're sharing. It's just that the teams are getting it done."
WHAT ARE YOU DOING AS FAR AS FITNESS AND NUTRITION FOR THE CHASE?
"I haven't changed my regular fitness regimen at all. It's been a little bit tough with testing every week. For the rest of the year we're going to be testing almost every week, along with the races on the weekend and that makes it a little bit difficult. As of right now, I've sort of been battling getting enough rest. That's the one thing I don't want myself or my team to get into is to get worn out. Obviously, it might be easier for that to happen to me than it might to my young buddy here Kurt Busch, but so far we're doing OK with it. One of the things that's really helped me is to not be under quite as much stress as I was last year. Last year coming in here we were 12th in the points and battling to make the chase. With the way things are going this year, we should be comfortably in - barring two major, major problems. I feel pretty good about it. I haven't changed the routine up much. We have saved a lot of tests. We are gonna be testing a lot. I am gonna be selective with what I do extra - above and beyond the racing and the testing and the personal appearances and all for the whole program, so that we can stay focused and fresh."
DO RACE CAR DRIVERS GET PAID ENOUGH COMPARED TO OTHER ATHLETES?
"I'd like to answer that one first. That question is probably not one for me to answer in a lot of ways. We do very, very well, but you can do the research and look at other professional athletes and compare that. I'm not sure that we do as well as some other professional athletes, but the thing that is different about our sport than anything else is it is so expensive to put our races on versus a ballgame for example. There's a lot of revenue generated in racing, but it also eats up a lot of revenue as well. I'll let Kurt answer the rest of it. I think we do really, really well. At the same time, sometimes it kind of stings to see someone get a $75 million, five-year contract in some other kind of sports. It just flabbergasts me."
"I have to agree with Mark on all of those aspects and continue to add that we're on a schedule that's longer than any other professional series - racing 38 race weekends. Then with the testing that we do, just the shear schedule, the strength that you have to find within to go to all these race tracks helps the sport continue to grow. It's great to be a part of this. To see drivers like Mark and Rusty retiring this year and passing on the torch to some of the younger drivers. With the up arrow around our sport, we have to still continue as drivers to do the autograph sessions and do the sponsor meet and greets to help ourselves grow and to help the sport to grow. So there's that demand put on the drivers, the teams, the crew guys - everybody. But yet there is only so much money to go around. You can't find these multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 companies that all want to be interested in jumping into NASCAR. It's a matter of doing the right things off the track as well as on the track and driver salaries come primarily from race results. That's something that you don't see in many other sports. If a guy is hurt on the sidelines, he's still getting 80-grand per football game per say. Where, in racing, you have to finish well if you want to make your money. It's a tough balance, but we're all having fun because we love to drive race cars."
DO YOU KEEP AN EYE ON THE HENDRICK TEAMS TO SEE HOW THEY'RE DOING AND USE THEM AS A BAROMETER?
"I think what we're doing is the same thing every weekend. We go to the race track and try to use every resource that we have to strengthen our program and help us make decisions on what we want to do with our team and with our cars - our hardware and what have you. That's pretty much it. We do that the same now as we did the first race or second race of the season. We actually all keep an eye on the competition. We don't keep our head in the sand. Right now, we are really at the top of our game, but I'd say maybe two or three years ago - three years ago for sure - I could say that we were definitely not at the top of our game so we were watching everything that we did as well as everything else that everyone else did in order to pull together, and we've managed to get where we are as a team."
HOW BIG OF A GOAL IS IT TO GET ALL FIVE ROUSH CARS IN THE CHASE?
"Well, that's gonna be incredible and I think it's gonna happen. It's absolutely phenomenal what the 17 bunch has been able to do over the past eight races. They've really turned their season around. We all assist one another and we have not done anymore now than we did a year ago right now at the same time. We all work together to make our deal stronger. Matt's a great guy. He had an off spell and his team has really rallied and put it all together and I believe that they're gonna make it in and that's gonna be pretty phenomenal to have half of the chase guys. That's gonna be interesting."
"That's something within our organization that we're trying to do, but we haven't been given instructions. Everybody is smart enough to know, whether it's a crew chief or an engineer or a driver, that anytime you have a little bit of a tidbit of information that's making your car go fast, I'll slide over and say, 'Hey, Matt, this is what's working for us.' It would be wonderful to see us all in there, especially a champion like Matt is. He's got as good a shot as anybody because he's just now hitting his stride. We all go through high points and we go through low points. Everytime I turned around I saw Matt with a flat tire or a wrinkled fender and a bad finish, so it's really good to see Matt put together some solid runs and to lead laps like that at Bristol last week and dominate. He's right there. He's only 11 points out and with the way that all of us are starting up front but Matt, I know he's gonna come charging to the front to get us."