MARK MARTIN, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO SS TALKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT LAST WEEK'S DAYTONA 500 AND HIS 2007 SCHEDULE ON THE EXTRA FAN SUPPORT HE'S RECEIVED SINCE THE DAYTONA 500? "It really warms my heart that we have so much respect and that so ...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 01 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO SS TALKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT LAST WEEK'S DAYTONA 500 AND HIS 2007 SCHEDULE
ON THE EXTRA FAN SUPPORT HE'S RECEIVED SINCE THE DAYTONA 500? "It really warms my heart that we have so much respect and that so many people support or respect me and pull for me. It's really sweet just to know that. And I feel really lucky and I feel blessed."
AFTER ALL THOSE YEARS OF RUNNING THE CUP SERIES FULL TIME, IT SEEMS LIKE YOU'RE RUNNING MORE RACES THIS YEAR THAN YOU HAVE IN THE PAST "Oh, you're mistaken. Last year I ran 65 races. I'll be running half that this year. Instead of having three weekends off from the Daytona 500 until Thanksgiving, I'm going to have 19 weekends off. So I'm really scaling back."
SO IT MUST BE MORE FUN KNOWING THAT EVERY SINGLE RACE IS JUST FOR A TROPHY AND THAT THERE'S NO BIGGER PICTURE INVOLVED? "Yeah, there is a lot of pressure off of me to not be racing for these points, although we are kind of because we need to keep the car up in the top 35 in points. At the end of the day, I'm one of the happiest guys in racing. I've got the best job in motorsports right now."
WHAT IF YOU'RE FIRST IN THE POINT STANDINGS COME BRISTOL? "What if?" (laughter)
WILL YOU BE AT THE BRISTOL TEST NEXT WEEK? "Yes, I'll be there to help the teams. I don't have any desire to race Bristol at this time. I'm very happy with my situation. Nobody has told me what I have to do. I get to do what I want to do. Right now, I've laid out the schedule just exactly how I want it. That's what I like about it."
ON THE INCREASING NUMBER OF CUP DRIVERS WHO ARE FROM CALIFORNIA: "There was a time there, for years, where most of the guys were from a central location that followed the circuit. That was a long time ago. Then it started to open up and spread out. It opened up to ASA and open-wheeled cars. When you have somebody as talented as let's say Jimmie Johnson, it doesn't matter where he's from, he's going to make it to this level. So I don't think it really matters where you're fun as much as what you do."
AFTER ALL THOSE YEARS OF DRIVING FOR ONE MANUFACTURER, IS IT DIFFERENT TO FLY ANOTHER BANNER? "It's different remembering what to say, and answering questions about it, but at the end of the day we're racing the heck out of these cars and for me that's what it's all about. I had the best shot at the Daytona 500 that I've ever had. In 22 starts, I've never had as good a shot as I had this year. I've said my thanks to Hendrick Motorsports for the great horsepower there - and to his team - I was proud to be driving that U.S. Army car."
ON THE TRUCK RACE TONIGHT, HOW WILL THE COOLER WEATHER AFFECT THE RACING? WILL IS BE AS WILD AS THE DAYTONA 500? "I hope so. And I hope to be right in the middle of it. The trucks are just awesome. And they put on a great show and we ought to be able to be up in the middle of it."
IS IT DIFFICULT NOT TO BE GOING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP NOW? "I'm incredibly happy with where I am in my life and so happy with the opportunity these guys have given me to do the racing on my terms and my schedule. I'm living the dream right now."
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF EVER GOING TO THE TRUCK SERIES FULL TIME AND GOING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP? "I hate that last part you said. I do see that as very much a possibility. I would have been doing that in '06 had Kurt Busch not left Roush Racing at the end of '05. That's what I would have done in '06. In '06, I decided I wasn't done with Cup racing and wasn't willing to close the door to keep the other open, so I sacrificed the truck thing to be able to continue to Cup race on my schedule. Some day when I feel like I don't belong or can't be competitive or whatever it might be, when I make the decision that I don't want to Cup race anymore, maybe I would do the truck thing full time. That's one of the things that is still on the top of my list. But I still have a lot of good Cup racing in me."
CAN YOU COMPARE THE FORD RACING TECHNOLOGY TO WHAT YOU HAVE NOW WITH GINN AND HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? "I'm just getting started. I had an awfully good engine at Daytona."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE RACING HERE IN CALIFORNIA? "It's awesome. I had the choice. I chose to come out here and race. I love this race track. I love the truck racing as well, so I'm going to be racing in the race tonight and this is right up near the top of my list. This race track is what really makes it special. It's a great track and it's good to be able to share what we do with our fans out here that don't get a chance to make it back that way."
ON DAYTONA 500, IF NASCAR HAD GONE THE OTHER WAY AND HAD THROWN THE YELLOW FLAG AND WE HAD TO SIT AROUND AND WAIT 20 MINUTES BEFORE THEY DECIDED THEY WANTED TO RACE, WHETHER YOU COME OUT OF THAT ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, IT BECOMES THE CONTROVERSY. HAVE YOU THOUGHT OF THAT? "You're right. I never considered that. I never gave that a consideration. But you know that hardware means a lot, but it doesn't mean as much as the respect of the fans and the competitors. I would have loved to have won it - to the line. I would have loved to have seen this team in victory lane because I know what it would have meant to them. But I didn't get it done. But I didn't give a thought about the controversy that could have been or the fact that the caution could have come out at a time when I wasn't ahead. I have accepted the result as what it was since about 10 seconds after we crossed the finish line. It took about 10 seconds for me to get my arms around it and I did, and that's it."
IF WE THINK WE HAVE CONTROVERSY NOW, HOW ABOUT THE OTHER WAY? "You're right. It's been like being caught up in a hurricane ever since. I've had a lot of well-wishers and so many people call. I've had a lot of people call who are disappointed and heart-broken. I hate that. I wish I could fix it for them. But I was glad to have had a shot at it."
-credit: gm racing