MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS met with media and discussed racing the competition in the Chase, Jimmie Johnson's skills, his intentions to race hard, sharing information in the garage with other drivers, and more. ON RACING AT...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS met with media and discussed racing the competition in the Chase, Jimmie Johnson's skills, his intentions to race hard, sharing information in the garage with other drivers, and more.
ON RACING AT MARTINSVILLE AND DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS "I watched these races in '07 and '08 and they seemed to be really good races. And then I was here for the first race this year. I had a great race. I started toward the rear of the field based on points because it rained and where we were. It worked well for us and we worked our way into the top 10 and ran there and it seemed to be a fairly clean race with good racing. And that's what I expect. I expect the double-file restarts to be very similar to what we've had at the other races where we've had winners and losers, but they have worked better than I expected and I hope that they work better than expected here."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA WAS TALKING ABOUT THE OPENNESS OF THE NASCAR GARAGE, ASKING YOUR FOR HELP, AND HOW COMPETITORS HELP COMPETITORS, WHY DO YOU HELP? FOR JUAN, IT WAS AN ADJUSTMENT COMING FROM F-1 "First of all one of the biggest forms of flattery is to have someone come and want to talk to me and want my opinion or advice; it's very flattering. It's something I've done ever since I really got hooked up with Ray Dillon in 1979, I have done an enormous amount of it. In 1980 and '81 we built race cars and our customers came and I did the set-up on their car to set their car up just exactly like mine and they paid me $100 cash and I was loving it! And then they would come to me at the race track, because we were always the fastest, and I always figured back then I could beat them anyway, you know?
"And it was very flattering and it was part of my duty to be a house car and (Dick) Trickle and some of those guys had always been that way with me as well. And it was fairly open. I was open with Rusty Wallace. I raced with him before we got to NASCAR. He told me everything that he had, loud, in the middle of the pit. You know how Rusty was (laughs). Anytime Rusty needed or wanted to know what I was doing on set-ups, and this was set-ups, this wasn't driving back then, this was even set-ups which is more critical. That's not traded today in the NASCAR garage like that.
"Do I think (Juan Pablo) Montoya could beat me? Sometimes. He's probably going to beat me whether I answer his question honestly or not. And I'd much rather be honest than dishonest. And I'm flattered that he asked me the questions. He'll figure out a way to beat me on any given day whether I answer honestly or not. So, we don't share technical race car information today like we did 15 years ago. Rusty and I always told each other what we had in our cars 15 years ago here at Martinsville. And the drivers don't do that. So it has closed up a lot."
ON THE 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE HENDRICK PLANE CRASH "Because I'm closer to the organization, I feel the pain that radiates throughout the organization and obviously feel and sense the pain; not only that is associated with this weekend but periodically other times as well. So, it is a source of great pain when you can feel it throughout the organization."
WHAT IS JUAN PABLO MONTOYA DOING BETTER; WHERE HAS HE GAINED? "He is gaining in every respect, but his biggest gain has been to drive the car and to come in and tell the team what the car is doing and what he needs it to do better. And that couldn't come the first year he was here. It's impossible. It comes with experience. He's also developed a great touch or a very good strong touch in being able to rally his team around him even though at times he might be a little bit short-fused a little bit about things, but nothing like he was two years ago at this point in time. Communication, understanding, and he's learned to really drive the car even when it's loose. He is as good as I thought he was and he's proving it. But before he got here, I thought he was this good and I think Juan can get still better yet going forward with even more experience."
YOU'VE CALLED JIMMIE JOHNSON 'SUPERMAN' AND YOU'VE RACED SOME OF THE BEST DRIVERS OF ALL TIME, DO YOU THINK JIMMIE IS BETTER THAN THOSE GUYS OR DO YOU THINK HE'S A PRODUCT OF BEING IN A GREAT SYSTEM RIGHT NOW? "Yeah, I think he's as good. It's a different time and a different day and age. But had he been here with me when I was racing Dale Earnhardt in the early '90's for the title, I think Jimmie would have held his ground. In my opinion, it appears to me that he would have held his ground better than I hold mine."
TECHNICALLY, IS THERE A WAY TO RACE THOSE GUYS JUST WITH DRIVING SKILLS? "That's not fair. Jimmie does his on technical. Earnhardt did his with his hands (laughs). Earnhardt did a lot of what he did with his hands and he wasn't near above playing head games as well. Jimmie is good because of technical; because he works physically and understands about the car and writes things down. Dale Earnhardt didn't take notes after every race and make out a full page set of notes after every single race so that they could go back to them before the next race. Dale just piled in that thing and wheeled it like an animal, you know? Jimmie understands that the way he can win is to make his car better than everyone's and he focuses on that and he makes his health better, physically, as well. So he's doing it all."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES TO CATCH JIMMIE JOHNSON? A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE PICKED YOU AS THE SENTIMENTAL FAVORITE, DO YOU TAKE THAT AS AN HONOR? "That's an incredible honor. And it's also a little bit of pressure. It means so much to me that they feel that way that I desperately don't want to disappoint them. That is that. It means a lot to me. I said that we would have a clearer picture of this championship after six races. This will be number six. As I analyze it a little closer, I think it'll be very clear after seven (races). I think it will be clearer after this race, but it's really going to require Talladega to clean it out and shuffle it; see if it shuffles. I have a feeling that I'm going to have a great Talladega race. I don't know if our competition will or not. But I wrecked on lap 5 last time there. I've got a feeling that this just isn't going to happen this time. The law of averages is going to get you sooner or later and I think I've got some good karma going in there so I'm very optimistic. It could be a great equalizer."
ON THESE BEING THE BIGGEST RACES OF THE YEAR AND ARE YOU GOING TO BE AN ANIMAL ON THE TRACK AND GET AFTER IT OR ARE YOU GOING TO SIT BACK AND SEE IF JIMMIE FALTERS? "I'm going to race him for it. I am not giving up, not one bit. I'm going to race him for it. Mike, it might make for good writing but if I go out there and get ugly here Sunday, then it might COST me that championship Mike. Now be smart about it. I know that it sounds all cool, and with drama but what I need to do is race him for it. And I am racing with everything I got and if I could find a way to be better, I would. And I will continue to look and search for anyway I can, going forward, to find a way to be better yet, but all I can do is put it out there. That's all I can do. I will put it out there and race with every bit of fire and because I don't cause a lot of stink on the race track doesn't mean I don't race without a lot of fire. You ask somebody that's raced me this year. I race with everything that I got."
ON HOW NASCAR HANDLES THINGS AS OPPOSED TO F1 AND CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW IT WOULD BE TO BE IN THAT OTHER WORLD? "I understand why Juan is over here if that is what you mean. It doesn't seem like it would be fun. This environment in NASCAR is very similar to the environment that I started racing dirt tracks on and graduated into asphalt late models and to ASA and all the way up through the ranks. So this is all I know. You know, it's not that much different now than when I was racing ASA, or even before, so certainly it's my passion and I love it and I have heard different stories about F1 and it doesn't sound like something that is enjoyable. It certainly would be enjoyable if you were in the best stuff and winning everything, but you can't always be in that and your stuff isn't always the best so I like what we have got going on here. I like what I have done for 35 years."
SO TO BE CLEAR YOU ARE VERY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT GOING TO TALLADEGA. DID WE HEAR YOU RIGHT? IT HASN'T BEEN ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE PLACES. "No, it's not. But that is why it's time for it to pay. It's my turn. Why not go there? To me it's my opportunity to really get back into the running for it. So I plan on going there and driving like I know I am not going to wreck. And last time I went there I was concerned about it because we didn't need to, and we were struggling to get from the bottom of the barrel to the Chase and we got in a wreck on lap five. And I wasn't mad when it was over with. It just happens and that is how I will leave Talladega this time. If I am in a wreck on lap one, it is what it is and I am going to go there and not worry about it. I'm going to go there and race and I am going to race like I am not concerned about getting in an accident.
"And sometimes accidents are all around you and you don't get tangled up and I am going to race like I am expecting it to happen around me and not catch me. I've thought about it and that is how I feel. If we wreck, then I am not going to worry about it. If we wreck, we don't have a chance to win the championship and if we win, we might.....we just might. So we are going to go there and just see what it turns out.
"You know, having a fast car there doesn't help you nearly as much as it does in other places so you know, it all comes down to what is meant to be. So I am going to go there and see what is meant for the No. 5 car and for me. We'll know after the race."
ON HOW YOU THINK ONE DRIVER WINNING A LOT AFFECTS THE WHOLE SPORT IN SCOPE AND IF IT'S GOOD OR BAD FOR IT "I don't think they pay less attention, they maybe don't pay more attention. People get tired of that and it causes peoples blood to flow. In other words when Earnhardt was winning so much people just watched because they wanted someone to beat him.
"So when someone dominates, I feel that the same number of people that it turns off, it also fires up a large number of people to want to see something change; to see that dominance change. So back in the day, we didn't worry whether or not fans were going to get tired of Earnhardt winning, or Rusty winning ten races or Bill Elliott, you know? We just went out there and did it. And if you can dominate, that is a good thing for you. Of course the forty-eight has been dominant and there are some people that are hoping that continues and some fans who think somebody can do something about that. So we will just see what happens. Sooner or later everything changes."
-credit: gm racing