MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed racing at Bristol, difficult tracks on the circuit, working with new crew chief Lance McGrew and other topics.

Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

TALK ABOUT BEING HERE AT BRISTOL THIS WEEKEND HAVING NINE POLES HERE ALREADY TIED WITH CALE YARBOROUGH FOR MOST AT THIS TRACK: “This is an exciting race for the fans as well as the competitors. Always has been. Bristol is so unique. It is the superspeedway of short tracks. There is a lot of thrills and excitement. Great races have gone down here. The fans have always supported the race incredibly. I’m excited to be here. Looking forward to going to work with my race team. I really am enjoying working with Lance (McGrew, crew chief) and all my new guys on the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. Every day is a new challenge and we are looking forward to today.”

IN TERMS OF DIFFICULTY, TALK ABOUT WHERE BRISTOL RANKS AND SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR THE DRIVER: “I think Bristol today in my ranking is average on the difficulty scale as far as getting the car to work; making it work, all of those kinds of things. The racing confines are tighter than average of the places we go and 500 laps at 16 seconds a lap are demanding in a sense over some of the other places. But, it’s physically demanding race track, a little bit less now than when it was so rough. A mentally demanding race track, up there starting to compete with the restrictor plate races as far as the mental aspect of it because you are just always…there is always stuff going on around you and you never get away from it. So, it’s a great challenge. It is the superspeedway of short track racing and I think we all really enjoy that variety. It is something that is unique to short track racing.”

COMPARING THE NEW BRISTOL TO WHAT IT WAS LIKE SIX OR SEVEN YEARS AGO, WHICH DO YOU LIKE BETTER AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT? “I like the new Bristol better because you can race on this race track with other cars much easier. There is the possibility of multiple grooves here which you really never had except maybe way back when it was asphalt. At times there might have been multiple grooves, at times through the years. But, it is as good as it has ever been from that standpoint and you are slightly more in control of your destiny now than you were before the reconfiguration. So, from a racing standpoint, it is better. It is probably as good or better than it has ever been. At least as good as it was in the 80s and early 90s and maybe better. You need a race track that is more suitable like this when you are trying to put 43 cars on it. In the 80s, we were starting 36 here so don’t forget that. And many of those didn’t last very long. Now pretty much most all of the cars last the whole race, especially under this configuration. We have less tore up race cars than we had before.”

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGING TRACKS AND THE MORE DIFFICULT TRACKS OUT THERE ON THE CUP CIRCUIT FOR YOU OR HOW DO YOU JUDGE IT? “Now you are starting to rate it and I see where you are going with that. Once I start doing that, then Bristol rises up toward the top of the list. Darlington is more difficult. That is the one that comes to mind. Then the mental demands that go along with restrictor plate racing. Physically, this is up there with Dover. It used to be more physical than Dover but smoothing it out actually, for me, made it a lot easier. You don’t man-handle the car and manipulate it as much over the bumps. You are more driving the car than jumping it. When you are jumping it, for me, it was more physical. So, it’s right up there. Like I said, in different ways, it is physically demanding because there is no rest here and can really work you with no break. You get 100 laps green here if your car is loose, it will take your breath away for that amount of time. It is difficult. It is mentally challenging. It can be a higher carbon monoxide race track although that hasn’t seemed to be an issue. It hasn’t been brutally hot anytime that I can remember since I have been coming back. I skipped, both of these races in ’07 and ’08. Since I have been coming back, it hasn’t been one of those that was a real challenge to physically make it to the end. But, I remember days before that back in the day when you had to pace yourself physically as well as pace your equipment. Now days we aren’t having to pace either one.”

DANICA (PATRICK) HAS RUN DOVER SO SHE HAS DONE THE CONCRETE, HOW DIFFICULT IS THE CHALLENGE FOR HERE TO TRY AND GET A CAR COMFORTABLE UNDER HER HERE AT BRISTOL? “With the progress that I have seen, I think that this is going to be not a major shocker. Just the fact that the mile-per-hour speeds are down are going to…it makes controlling and sliding the car a little…it delays that a little bit. It gives you more time. When you are doing 190 miles-an-hour and the car steps out, it snaps around pretty quick and a lot of time it will snap and try to get away from you here but being 120 miles-an-hour is a much more controllable slide. I think she’ll get along with it better than you expect. She is showing a lot of progress. Looks pretty good in practice. Things seem to be going well. They are headed in the right direction.”

WHAT CHARACTERISTICS HAVE YOU SEEN IN LANCE (MCGREW) THAT ARE GOING TO BE BENEFICIAL TO YOUR TEAM GOING FORWARD AND ALSO, HAVING HAD TIME TO WORK WITH HIM AND BEING A BIG SUPPORTER OF DALE, JR., HAVE YOUR NOTICED ANYTHING DIFFERENT WITH JUNIOR, HE SEEMS TO HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF HIS CONFIDENCE BACK? “Junior is well on his way to what I would call a recovery. It’s been a tough stretch for him. I think that he is incredibly committed this year and is feeling comfortable and confident, more confident. As far as Lance, Lane is fun. I enjoy working with him. I feel very comfortable working with him. We have some fun while we are doing it. He has a great bunch of guys working for him and they all seem to be comfortable and know what their role is and how to do it. How to get the job done and done well. It’s a very very strong race team and we are having fun at it. You know, that is one of the things. We want to get good results, but at the same time, we want to have fun while we are doing it.”

WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE FIRST THREE RACES OF THE SEASON, IS IT ALMOST LIKE BRISTOL IS A FRESH START OR NEW START TO THE SEASON OR WHAT CAN YOU TAKE FROM THE FIRST THREE RACES THIS YEAR AND USE THROUGHOUT THE REMAINDER OF THE SEASON? “It is just how it is. The last race is in November and the first race is in February and you race and you go to whatever race tracks are on the schedule and you just move forward. It doesn’t feel like a new start to the season to me, it feels like a continuation of the beginning of the season. Every race brings different circumstances and Bristol brings its own. We have three behind us and we have Bristol in front of us and we go from there to California, Martinsville and we start building our season. It all starts in February at Daytona. Bristol is Bristol. My view is even though we maybe went to a little bit different race track or race tracks here…or the order of the race tracks we go is not really…it is an accumulation of the season. This is the fourth race. We are here at Bristol. NASCAR, the sport itself, is on an upward swing. The fans are charged up and the competitors are ready to go. We are ready to go racing.”

THE CREW CHIEF SWAP, THERE HAVE BEEN OTHER TEAMS THAT TRIED THAT AND IT HASN’T WORKED FOR WHATEVER REASON, WHY HAS IT WORKED SO WELL FOR HENDRICK WHERE THREE GUYS CAN SWAP CREW CHIEFS AND EVERYBODY SEEMS HAPPY. DID YOU GUYS DO ANY WORK ON THAT OR WAS THAT JUST A NATURAL THING? “First of all, the first thought that come to mind, is the quality of people you are dealing with here. Lance McGrew, Alan Gustafson and Steve Letarte, Jeff Gordon, Dale, Jr. and myself, we all feel very committed to Hendrick Motorsports and all the people there are committed to doing the right thing. I don’t know, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but if I was running that place, that is what I would have done. How could I not support it? If I was running that place, I would have made that call. I think it was a good move and everyone is very motivated right now. We are all working on a little bit different stuff. We’re going to be working on different stuff and the season progresses until we all settle on one group of hardware and logic and then we will all migrate toward that. But right now, all four teams are working, trying to find the newest combination of things to really set us on fire. It is my hope that we will gain momentum and strength as the season goes forward as we build on that and sort through some things and sort of migrate toward the best of all of that. But I don’t have a plan. I think as soon as possible but it takes time to evaluate hardware and setup logic and all these things. You can’t make that judgment on one race because I believe you can run good with anything one time. It has got to be consistent. For us, anytime we make a change, if it is better, we go with it. If it is not better, we don’t go with it and we keep an eye on it. It takes awhile to evaluate things and determine that things are better or that conditions just didn’t get better when you made those changes and the competition environment on that particular day and all of those things. It takes awhile to evaluate all of that and hopefully we will all run good now and all run better this summer.”

-source: team chevy