Michigan II: Martin - Friday media visit

MARK MARTIN, No. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET met with media and discussed speculation about his future, this season compared to last, making the Chase, Jack Roush, and more. ON PROGRESS THE TEAM HAS MADE: "We've got to keep improving and we would...

MARK MARTIN, No. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET met with media and discussed speculation about his future, this season compared to last, making the Chase, Jack Roush, and more.

ON PROGRESS THE TEAM HAS MADE: "We've got to keep improving and we would hope to do that. We've got good race tracks in front of us. We're making very steady progress, and I'm optimistic that we will continue to make progress. We're really working hard, putting a lot of effort into getting back on top of our game here, and certainly the results are starting to show it."

YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THE CONSUMMATE PROFESSIONAL, BUT HOW MUCH HAS ALL OF THE SPECULATION REGARDING YOUR FUTURE BEEN A DISTRACTION? "As much as we would like it not to be, now that it's behind us, it does a feel a little lighter. So, I would say that we did the best that we could under the circumstances at managing all of that, and the air does feel a little lighter. We all really enjoy working together, and we've been doing a lot of that together, not just at the NASCAR events, but we're putting a lot of effort away from the events as well, and picking things up. It feels fun again. We hope to keep this positive momentum going forward.

"I reflect back on how I reacted in Indy and regret what I said there. That came from the heart and not from the head. It was grinding on me, and I apologize for what I said and wish I hadn't said what I said. I should've just continued to hold on to the high road just a little bit longer, and it would've been all okay. Anyway, we're moving forward now."

STRICTLY IN TERMS OF COMPETITION, HOW MUCH PRESSURE IS ON YOU? HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO LAST YEAR, WHEN YOU CAME FROM SO VERY FAR BACK? "It's real different than last year. Last year, it was so intense because we knew that if we got in the Chase, we could win it -- and nearly did. And so it would've been a major crime to have missed the Chase last year. This year, we have got to continue to build momentum quickly, if we make the Chase, to be relevant once we get in. And that's what's important to us. I think that to all of us at the 5 car it's more important for us to get on track than anything else, you know -- than making the Chase and just floundering around is not what we want to do. We would like to make the Chase and peak at the right time and be a contender. That's a stretch, but that's what we're striving for."

YOU ARE 10 POINTS UP ON 13TH PLACE IN THE STANDINGS. DO YOU FIND YOURSELF PLAYING OFFENSE OR DEFENSE? "I'm not really sure. We need to go out and really run strong. I don't think we can make the Chase unless we go out and run strong. So what we do, we put our effort toward that. And then if we don't run really strong, it isn't because the effort wasn't in an offensive way. You know what I'm saying? So, if we don't go out and look really strong, it doesn't mean that we're playing defense; what we were really doing was our very best. And that's what we're going to do -- put our best foot forward, put an enormous amount of effort into picking up our game, really more than last year, because last year we were on it so we were just refining what we were doing. This year we're really pushing hard to find a way to step it up."

LOOKING AHEAD, YOU HAVE SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES NOW. HAVE YOU PLANNED THAT OUT IN YOUR MIND, YET? "Yeah. I mean I've got in my mind what I want to do, and what I want to do is get almost this deep into the season next year. The cool thing is that I don't have to worry about it. Certainly would not make any kind of commitment this early of any kind. It is a very exciting time in my life. It is the best time in my life. From January '09 to now has just been the best, ever. And, it's exciting. I love this sport, and I've had the opportunity to work with so many great people, and the support of so many fans and so many people in the sport. And I'm going to let it ride pretty deep into next year, I think, before I make any kind of decision, because I want to take the one that is most fulfilling to me, whatever that might be, whatever it entails. That's what I want to do.

"So, I'm going to ride along and enjoy working with the brightest in the business right now, I believe, from Mike Baumgartner, our car chief, to our engineers and Alan Gustafson, and having a friend in Rick Hendrick and all the people there. It is the time of my life and I'm going to enjoy that. And you have to understand, also, it's by choice, my choice, that I won't be back in the 5 car in '12. That was my choice, and I made that choice final back in March, because it was looking too far forward. So, to answer your question, it's still looking too far forward to think about what might happen in 12. That was just too far out for me to make that type of commitment, so life's good right now."

COMPARING LAST YEAR TO THIS YEAR, HOW IDENTICAL WERE YOUR CARS FROM '09 TO NOW? "It has changed. What worked last year is too slow this year, and that kind of tripped us up a little bit. It took us a while. At first, you're in denial that you missed it here and missed it there. It takes a while to realize that what was so awesome last year won't get it done this year, and so the cars are evolving week to week now, the setups and the cars, the change to the spoiler actually did trip us up a little bit, more than we expected, we didn't expect it. And also the tires have evolved a lot from last year.

"They're different every time we go back to the same race track again, they're almost never the same thing. We haven't been involved in much of the tire testing, and when they take guys to tire tests, those guys end up tailoring the tires, if you understand what I'm saying, because they drive their cars and get a feedback -- 'Yeah, that's good. That's not so good.' -- and so the tires have been tailored to a different setup, car, than I was driving last year that really worked, and now we're having to migrate toward more of the way the other guys have been setting their cars up than the way my cars were set up last year.

"We've had to figure that out and learn as we go. What worked and was fast last year just won't get it this year. So we've been having to migrate toward what some of the other teams have been doing."

YOU SAY THAT IT'S FUN AGAIN. DID THAT FEELING ARRIVE WITH TUESDAY'S NEWS OR DOES IT DATE BACK TO WHEN YOU RAN WELL AT POCONO OR INDIANAPOLIS? "It was starting to build, actually, at Chicago. We didn't have the greatest in result but we certainly saw the progress in the speed of the car. We knew the things we were working on were starting bear a little fruit. But for some reason -- I don't know if it was just the fact that we got back in the Chase, I don't know -- but for some reason this week has just felt, to me, much better. We've been together.

"We tested Tuesday and Wednesday together and had just a great two days' worth of working together with Alan and the guys, and the whole week has just felt lighter. It's a combination of all of that. The biggest thing is that we believe we're headed in the right direction to get back more competitive. That's huge. The other thing was, like I said before, is I think as hard as we tried to not let it have any effect on us, I think it did have an effect on how you feel. I think it has an effect on you feel -- especially as it wore on. It was fine for a while, but it wore on a long, long time. It wore on Alan as well and probably affected the guys on the car as well. It's really an awesome group.

"The 5 is a real special team, and we'll always have a real special place in my heart. And, believe it or not, Kasey Kahen going there has a lot to do with how I feel about them, it really has a lot to do with that. I wanted to make sure that they were in the best hands possible. Actually, I don't know if you guys maybe do or don't realize it, but I started talking to Kasey Kahe in September of '09. I don't think Rick Hendrick started talking to Kasey Kahne until February or March of this year. So, he didn't even now that I was talking to Kasey Kahne about coming over there, and of course Kasey just kind of laughed a little bit about it and said, 'You never get out of that car.' Anyway, I really, really, really have friends for life there, and I want to make sure that they were in great, great hands, and I feel very confident about that now."

HAVE YOU TALKED TO JACK ROUSH SINCE HIS CRASH, AND CAN YOU TELL US HOW HE'S DOING? "I talked to Jack Sunday evening, and he's doing okay. He, obviously, wanted to tell me the story about how the accident happened, and it was pretty much what I suspected immediately when I heard where and when it had happened. There was a conflict with traffic. He told me the whole story, and we talked for a long time. It was really good to talk to him. The bond between he and I is really, really strong because of the things that we went through in the beginning of Roush Racing, and as hard as they were, so many of those years, as hard as they were, they were also the kinds of things that bond people for life. So, it was good to talk to him. We talked about that. We talked about building and trials and everything we faced through those years and had a great visit."

YOU SAID, "CONFLICT." "You know, I don't want to get into that much, but when there's an air show, when there's a thing like Fun 'n Sun down at Lakeland, which I had gone into before, they've got aircraft that are landing just nose to tail, and they might be landing on other runways, on taxiways, all this stuff simultaneously.

"It's not something you deal with under normal circumstances. Under normal circumstances, they're way spread apart and all of that stuff. When you deal with that and the volume at Oshkosh or Fun 'n Sun in Lakeland and I had done that before, I had an idea of what was going on, and Jack got in a situation where he thought, 'How am I going to get out of this without hitting somebody?' because of all the things that were going on, which is exactly what I thought would happen, because, you know, he's in a jet and there's some very small aircraft at different speeds and those kinds of things, and he just got in a situation where he was uncertain about how he was going to make it all work, got slow and tried to get slowed down and got a little too slow and whatever. It was one of those situations where it was a bad deal. I really feel bad. I'm glad that's he's released from the hospital. I know that's really tough on him. I know he's a tough guy, but he can deal with the injuries, probably better than he can deal with being in the hospital, you know? So, I'm glad he's out, and look forward to seeing him back at the race track real soon."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Kasey Kahne , Jack Roush