Continued from part 2 Q: How important, Ricky, is the series itself to have a marquee star to kind of have that one guy that people come out to watch? RICKY CARMICHAEL: It's really important, because you know obviously supercross ...
Continued from part 2
Q: How important, Ricky, is the series itself to have a marquee star to kind of have that one guy that people come out to watch? RICKY CARMICHAEL: It's really important, because you know obviously supercross wants to be where NASCAR is, but unfortunately there's not enough parity. So we need that key guy. There was Jeremy, there was me now there's James.
Unless they can do something to make the racing better where 10 guys have a chance to win rather than one guy all the time, he's going to -- it's super important to have that one marquee guy.
And that's what I'm trying to do for the motorcycle racing is get it more like NASCAR, where you can come to a race and your guy has a chance to win, not just the same old guy all the time. So it's important right now that he's in there.
Q: My question for you is, Mark, after 621 you go home, how did you feel Sunday night and Monday and this morning compared to other times in your career?
MARK MARTIN: I really don't feel any different. You know, it's really proud I didn't have any idea we were still leading the points when I got out of the car Sunday. I was really pretty proud of that. But not as proud as my son Matt is. Sometimes he's hard to impress. But he seems to be very proud of that fact.
My Monday has been the same. My Tuesday has been the same. I've been incredibly business, trying to get everything done and caught up and organized so that I can possibly cruise somewhere along the way, but I don't know when that's going to be.
So I don't really feel any different at all. And I think that Sunday will be an eye-opener for me, kind of like it will be for Ricky. And for Regan as well. I think we're all in for an eye-opener, and I don't even know what to expect. I expect to enjoy watching the race and there might be a twinge in there along the way that I wish I was there. But I doubt it.
I think I'm going to enjoy the race and going to be grateful for the great career that I have had and for the great job -- I've got the best job in motor sports. I've told you that over and over again. I get to drive for a capable race team and a capable car when I want at the places I want to race at. And I couldn't ask for better than that.
Q: Any chance when you're off racing with Matt, Ricky, you might get in yourself and hot lap to help them with their setups?
MARK MARTIN: I can't fit in Matt's but I can fit in Ricky's and my stuff will be on board. I don't expect to, though. Testing, yes, I do. I mean testing -- I've tested the car Ricky is going to race over there. And Jesus Hernandez raced the car during speed weeks in preparation.
And we have hired Mike Fritz, who is a driver down here that is won tons of races in Florida in the Super Late Model Division, one of the best in Florida to come to work at our race shop, Mark Martin Performance, and be a part of our program. And he's hung up the helmet at least temporarily to help us get our program stronger. So that's something I'm really excited about is having Mike Fritz added to the mix and we're going to do a lot of race and we're going to teach these kids how to race. Matt Bowers, Matt Martin, we're going to give him an opportunity to get better and we're going to get Ricky ready to move up to the big stuff here this summer. So it's going to be fun.
@#Q: Regan, is there in the quiet moments, has there been a motivational or inspirational conversation you've had with Mark that keeps running through your head as you get ready to go up there?
REGAN SMITH: Well, I think for me even today for instance listening in on the conference, the nice things Mark had to say at the beginning, for a young guy myself coming up through it's special to hear Mark say those comments.
As Ricky said earlier Mark is not the kind of guy that's going to BS you, he's going to shoot it straight.
That means a lot to me and that gives me confidence as a driver. But also at the same time when we've been off testing together and stuff like that, the things that Mark's done to help me at the test and the things that he said at the test to help me get better in the race cars and stock cars, whether it be the Cup cars or Busch cars?
Q: Can you take us inside that a little bit to share some of the things he said to you?
REGAN SMITH: There's not one thing, just to pinpoint and say exactly. It's just the little words of encouragement and the little things that he says. Like, for instance, at the Mexico race, Mark was watching the Mexico race. I had a problem at the end of the race there. We had a flat tire didn't get the finish we deserved.
He was watching, and he let me know that. And just to know that he's watching and that he's rooting for us still and even though he's not going to be in Bristol this weekend, I'm sure when I talk to him Monday he'll know everything that happened throughout the course of the race and that means a lot to me.
As I've said before I've looked up to him since I was four years old when I first started watching races on TV and that's pretty special?
MARK MARTIN: Bill, let me answer that question, too. Regan is humble and is exactly how I want him to be. And so, therefore, it's nice that he didn't tell you this. But I haven't gone faster in his race car yet. That's probably the biggest vote of confidence of all.
I've been in his car in Lakeland and Bristol, and I think that's the biggest thing. And that's a huge vote of confidence not only for Regan but for Ryan Pemberton and for me as well, about what he's fixing to embark on. We really believe in him and we know he's going to do well.
Q: For Ricky, Damian touched a little bit about this. But I want you to explain to us who have never driven anything competitively what the transition has been like coming off two wheels and going to four. I mean you know can you give us specifics about track time and just preparing yourself physically for the transition?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: You know the biggest thing for me has been just I'm learning something every time that I get in the car as opposed to a motorcycle. I've done it for so long, 22 years, that it was like putting on my shoes. For me it takes a lot more mental concentration in the car than a motorcycle. But the thing that is easier for me in a car is the physical aspect of it.
It's much easier. I'm not out of breath. And you know strength- wise, it's much easier for me. And so that's one good thing that I can turn over. And another thing you're always racing that's going to be the same no matter whether it's a motorcycle or a car. It's just learning what the car does and what the motorcycle does. And so the racing is always the same no matter what form of racing.
The biggest thing for me has been the amount of focus you have to have in a car as opposed to a motorcycle. I have to stay much more focused.
Q: Where have you been making laps? What tracks have you been working on just to try to get used to the sensation?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: I started out at Hickory North Carolina a few times. New Samerna and Lakeland those two tracks I've been to a few times. I've only been to Lakeland once but the others I've been to quite a few times. Not enough but that's fixing to pick up and we'll put in our time.
Q: Mark, I just want to tell you that there are a few athletes that go out on top and just commend you for sticking to your guns and doing what you want to do. Good luck this weekend?
MARK MARTIN: Thank you. It means a lot to me. And I really appreciate it. I watch (inaudible) Texas, wherever the race was that he won, it was his final IRL race. He won the Indy 500 that year, finished second in the points and won the last race. That was cooler than cool, man.
But this is pretty good too, to do it this way, thank you.
Q: Ricky he's going out on top too but at least he's got a full-time job?
MARK MARTIN: Yes. He's got his hands full. We're going to be working hard. He's a great young man with a tremendous work ethic and I know you know that.
RICKY CARMICHAEL: I was telling somebody this weekend, if you can write a book the only thing you have to do is change the names on the book. And I just felt bad for Mark, with all these people saying he's going to keep racing, going to keep racing, fortunately for me I got that out of the way a couple times and I just, you just get tired of hearing it. Now everyone can see that why they would never think he wasn't a man of his word. But just amazing why they wouldn't trust what he said.
And I think it's awesome, and I know he'll feel a load off his shoulders after this weekend is over so everyone will quit asking him that darn question.
Q: Now he could probably help you with learning how to change diapers. (Laughter)
Q: Mark, I was just wondering, when you're watching on TV this weekend, what will you be looking for out of the COT?
MARK MARTIN: Drivability. You know I wasn't -- I went up and did the test with Regan there. And helping him prepare and stuff. And to be real honest with you, when I came up on cars that had been out for a while on hot tires and were slower because of that, I wasn't comfortable when passing them.
You're not real comfortable in a regular car up there but the car of tomorrow is less comfortable yet. I think it's going to be a real challenge to put 43 of them out there and keep all the drivers under control because you have to go there and you have to pass and it's not comfortable being confined. In other words, you really feel that you need all the racetrack.
And so I'm going to be watching for the drivability of it. To be real honest with you, if NASCAR would just raise that splitter up, the car would be fine. There's nothing wrong with that car other than the splitter height. They're trying to take away 50% of the front end suspension travel. If they didn't do that, it wouldn't really be a big deal for the teams to get used to the rest of it, the wing. The rest of the car is just a car.
But when you cut that front suspension in half, now it becomes a problem. It's a shock to all of us. And now we don't know if it's because other things about the car or what. We don't know what to do.
You can't find a way to make the car drive as nice and as smooth as it did with double the suspension in the front.
Q: What about 2008, are you thinking full-time then?
MARK MARTIN: Let's please don't start talking about that yet.
Right now, you know, right now I've got the same schedule. I mean that's what the paperwork said that I signed, we did two years of the 22-race schedule with the option of adding or deleting. I haven't missed a race yet. I haven't even set Bristol out yet. So let's wait until September to talk about '08. That's when I talk to Jay and all about '08 is September and we won't be talking about it until then.
Q: For Ricky, what do supercross skills will transfer best to the stock car track?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: I think the racing mentality, the racing instincts and supercross, you have to be much more on your game. Everything is coming up to you so fast that there is a bit more focus in supercross than you need in the outdoor motocross. So I think that's what will transfer. I think that will help me when there's more cars on the track with me I think that I could carry some of that over. But it's hard for me to really tell you what, because I haven't raced and I will be able to answer that more precisely next week for you.
Q: Regan, can you comment on having Mark Martin as a mentor and coach in your NASCAR quest?
REGAN SMITH: It's a huge opportunity for me to have Mark there to be able to talk to him and get knowledge from him. For instance, at the Bristol test, if I thought the car was good and he hopped into it and said, no, you'll have to be a little bit freer for this for the long runs and for the race, that's stuff I would have had to go through a race to learn to start with and instead now I've got that knowledge up front.
And just little things like that. There's so many other things. I've watched Mark. I've tried to kind of have the same respect for the sport and other drivers that he's had throughout my career. And it's a legend and that's all I can say about him. He's awesome.
-credit: ginn racing