MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS met with media and discussed tire strategy, date change for California fall race, rhythm in the Chase, Juan Pablo Montoya and other F-1 drivers coming to NASCAR, and more. THE RACE LAST WEEK CAME...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS met with media and discussed tire strategy, date change for California fall race, rhythm in the Chase, Juan Pablo Montoya and other F-1 drivers coming to NASCAR, and more.
THE RACE LAST WEEK CAME DOWN TO TWO OR FOUR TIRES. HOW DO YOU AND YOUR CREW CHIEF DECIDE WHETHER TO TAKE TWO OR FOUR TIRES? "Sometimes Alan might ask me or sometimes I might make a suggestion. Or he makes the call and I don't question it. It's kind of a two-way street when you are working these races because you try to bring your perspective and put that together with the crew chief's perspective as well."
DOES IT GO THROUGH YOUR MIND THAT YOU ARE GAMBLING OR PLAYING IT SAFE? "Yes, either gambling or risky, no risk...everything you do has a certain degree of risk to it but you have to weigh out what the trade-offs are. You know, how much do you risk putting cars in front of you with two tires, and you taking four.
"Certainly that is a risk. It makes your car better or taking two and not having the best car and having cars behind you with four on. There is a certain amount of risk to that as well. So we are just racing and we do what we think will do the best for us."
IT SEEMS AS THIS CHASE GOES ON YOU HAVE DEVELOPED A GOOD RHYTHM AND ITS SHOWING "Well its three races and we would like to keep it going. You know the team and I are really focused on the racing and not so much focused on..........what the reality is, the racing decides. We've gotten better as the season has gone along so we have been working together and have gotten some of the things going that we didn't have. We had maybe an extraordinary amount of things that kind of plagued us or got us and those things have settled down now. And if we have seven more races of where we don't have any of that, I have a lot of confidence in the performance of this race team and see how it works out. Right now we are not really focused on all of that down the road, we are focused on the racing and going to let the racing decide."
MARK ARE YOU A BETTER DRIVER NOW THAN YOU WERE IN YOUR 30's? "In some ways."
IN WHAT WAYS? "I couldn't tell you that."
MORE EXPERIENCED PROBABLY? "Sure. I have done more things wrong when I was in my 30s and that has a tendency to shape who you are and how you drive."
ON THE CHANGE OF THE DATE AT CALIFORNIA AND HOW THAT AND THE WEATHER WILL MAKE THIS RACE PLAY OUT DIFFERENTLY "I don't know if I was out here last year, and I am sure I wasn't out here the year before. So I missed that really hot one. I heard all about it. I don't know, I don't think I have been out here the last couple years for this race."
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST CUP START ABOUT WHEN AND HOW IT CAME ABOUT? "Well I built my own car...my guys and I...our short track car that we raced in ASA and all the Late Model short tracks around. We put a car together and took it to North Wilkesboro and did our first race."
HOW DID IT GO? "We qualified 6th and they started the race with it sprinkling and I was freaked out about that because it was yellow and green and I had never experienced that before so I didn't turn....I don't know why I had never had a rear end cooler before and to me we weren't really racing so I didn't turn it on so when they did go green, I burned the rear end up. So, one of those days."
DID YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHEN YOU HAD THAT START, THAT YOU WOULD HAVE THIS KIND OF CAREER AND BE RACING THIS MANY YEARS LATER? "Of course not. It was just a real thrill to be on the racetrack with Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough and Darryl Waltrip, Bobby Allison and all those guys."
ABOUT YOUR WIFE ARLENE AND HER ROLE BACK AT HOME AND WITH YOU IN THE CHASE "You know, especially since I started driving the five car I leave 80% of the racing there and don't bring it into the house and I definitely don't bring the disappointments or problems that we might experience into the home. And that has worked really well. We have shared all the excitement and enthusiasm together for all the good things that have happened and she is my partner for twenty-five years and I wouldn't be the person I am today if she hadn't took me to raise back in 1984."
DOES SHE CRITIQUE AT ALL ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS ON THE RACETRACK OR DOES SHE STAY OUT OF THAT? "She stays out of it. She is not a huge race fan...if she is a race fan at all. So that is not her expertise. We do really, really, really well together. She has been there with me through some of the toughest of times and been there for the great successes. I think she has really enjoyed the success as well as all my family and friends. We have all really enjoyed all the successes that we have had this year every bit as much as I have."
ON BEING REALLY CALM AND COOL ON THE RADIO AND ITS ABILITY TO MAKE BETTER DECISIONS DURING THE RACE "Well it does. But hopefully I won't get in a position of where I let myself let the emotions get out of control or in control of me and we can continue to race based on our experience and expertise."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO SEE DALE EARNHARDT, JR. GROW UP AND THE MAN HE HAS BECOME? "I am really proud of him and proud for him. I've said before and I'll say again, he is the, in my eyes, the strongest man in NASCAR. He really inspires me the way he's managed to handle the amount of fame and scrutiny and just the crush of all of that with broad shoulders and gracefully. He is a heck of a race car driver and I look forward to when he gets back on a roll and shows everybody just how good he really is. Just reminds everybody how good he is."
CAN YOU RELATE HOW HARD IT IS NOT TO HAVE HIS FATHER AROUND, TO SOME DEGREE, HOW YOU HAVE TO COME BACK AND FIND THAT STRENGTH? "It's a tragedy. It is a tough part of life that everyone has to deal with. For me, it was really tough because he (Martin's Father) was my hero and there never will be anyone in my life that was in his league in that respect. I just miss being able to share the good times as well as maybe when I am not having a good day, maybe having someone to lean on. His loss in many ways was 10 times over mine because of the fame, the scrutiny, the media, the crush of all of that. So there again, it just reiterates what I said to start with."
HE SEEMS TO EMULATE YOU ON THE TRACK, RACES PEOPLE CLEAN, RACES PEOPLE THE WAY HE WANTS TO BE RACED, CAN YOU THINK OF A BETTER COMPLIMENT TO YOU FROM ONE RACER TO ANOTHER? "I can't either. He didn't say that, but you did and I agree. Those words didn't come out of his mouth, but that is a reasonable observation. It is cool to see. It is cool to see. That is what you have seen. People see what they want to see but I see some of that as well. But, no matter what, I admire and appreciate the way he conducts himself on and off the race track."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF HOW MONTOYA IS DOING IN THE CHASE? "I am not surprised. I predicted that he could be a player in this thing. I am more sure now than ever that those guys can be a player. It is going to be fun to watch. We are only three races in, there is a lot of racing to go. They are showing a lot of strength."
DO YOU FEEL MONTOYA IS RACING DIFFERENTLY THAN HE DID BEFORE? "I feel he is racing hard and smart. That is what it took to get him in the Chase and I feel like he is racing the same way. As hard as he can as smart as he can."
THIS WEEK IT WAS REVEALED THAT SOME OTHER F-1 DRIVERS ARE GOING TO TRY NASCAR, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT? "It wouldn't be the place of mine to say. I don't know that much. My guess is more for fun and to see what kind of interest could be stirred up. It is quite a commitment to do what Juan Pablo has done. Not just everybody is going to be able to put that whole program together and battle through what it take to get where Juan is now. Two and three-quarter years to get Juan where he is and I think he is probably one of the best drivers that this sport has ever seen. There is just a lot of difference in the kind of racing he did and the racing he is doing now. It takes a while."
DO YOU HAVE FUN TALKING TO MONTOYA? "It is humbling to me that he asks me a lot of questions. That is pretty incredible to see somebody of his talent. We talk, he asks a few questions and we talk back and forth a lot. I admire and appreciate him."
-credit: gm racing