MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed returning to MIS following win in June, not getting caught up in stress of the Chase, success over 50 years old for ...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Michigan International Speedway and discussed returning to MIS following win in June, not getting caught up in stress of the Chase, success over 50 years old for himself, Ron Hornaday and other athletes, driver conditioning, the economy and other topics.
GIVE US YOUR THOUGHTS ON COMING FROM 32ND TO WIN THE RACE BACK IN JUNE. "You know the deal is that it's nice to start in the front, but you don't have to. You do the best you can with what you have to work with. Last time here we qualified 32nd. We didn't want to, but we did and we worked with what we had to work with."
DOES THAT PLAY WITH YOUR MIND THAT YOU ARE WAY BACK IN THE FIELD AND YOU HAVE YOUR WORK CUT OUT FOR YOU? "Every day is a competition. With qualifying, I don't like to lose qualifying. And you know, I felt like I lost. Being 32nd with a car that is capable of doing what our car is capable of doing was.........I was embarrassed. But, somebody has to start 32nd every week and it was us, last time here."
YOU SAID YOU WERE NOT CONCERNED ABOUT THE POINTS, BUT WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS OF BEING IN THE TOP-12 AND THE POINTS BEING SO TIGHT? "Just not getting caught up into it. You know, it would be nice to be locked in but it's also nice to be contending to get in. It would be a lot worse if you were back and didn't have a shot at it.
So with our race team and the performance we have had on the race track, you know, all we have got to do is go out and race and if things go against us, we can't help that. But the performance of the race team certainly makes me comfortable. There's things you can't control that I'm not going to stay awake at night worrying about."
DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ON ATLANTA NOT BEING IN THE CHASE THIS YEAR, AND CALIFORNIA BEING IN THE CHASE? "No I haven't even thought about it. Just you know, everybody gets a little too caught up in all this points stuff. You know, we still race every weekend. And it's really fun to win and that is what I am trying to do. To have fun, win some races, drive for a great race team and we're doing that.
Whatever the schedule is..........I'm not going to stress about it. Where we are going next week, I'm not going to stress about it. I'm happy to be driving fast stuff and working with a great race team."
DID YOU USED TO STRESS ABOUT IT AND YOU HAVE JUST LEARNED OVER THE YEARS NOT TO STRESS ABOUT IT? "I used to stress about everything and I stress about plenty now. But I am not going to get caught up in the points. I've told you guys that to start with.
I can't help if we have a flat tire, or we get caught up in a wreck, or a part breaks, or if rain comes at an inopportune time. I can't help that. So I'm not going to stay awake at night or stress about that, because I'm having too much fun."
ARE WE GOING TO SEE PEOPLE WHO RUN WELL HERE AND AT ATLANTA, RUN WELL IN THE CHASE AND IS IT TOO LATE TO MAKE GAINS? "Most likely if they are a 30th place car at those two tracks, they are going to be a 30th place car at Bristol too. So if you are running good, you pretty much run good everywhere, and if you are running bad, you pretty much run bad everywhere and to be real honest with you, almost everyone that is vying for a Chase spot runs good everywhere and it's really about things that you can't control that are the determining factors."
DO YOU SEE FOLKS WHO ARE IN THE TOP-FIVE AS HAVING AN ADVANTAGE TO BEING LOCKED IN THE CHASE BECAUSE THERE IS NO TESTING AND IT'S SO HARD TO CATCH UP? "I don't know. I'm just out here racing man. Having fun."
WOULD YOU BE WORRIED IF YOU WEREN'T GETTING TOP-TEN FINISHES HEADING INTO THE CHASE? "Yes, if your intentions were to win the championship (laughs). You look at Juan Pablo Montoya and the way they have been running the last few races, I would say they have a shot at winning the championship. You wouldn't have said that six weeks ago.
It's all a cycle. Everybody goes good for a while and then don't go good. Its only ten races. You only have to put a roll together for ten. And anyone that gets in the Chase is capable of putting that roll together."
GIVEN WHAT YOU ARE DOING, AND WHAT RON HORNADAY IS DOING IN THE TRUCK SERIES AND WHAT TOM WATSON DID IN THE BRITISH OPEN, ARE YOU GUYS MAKING 50 THE NEW 40? "I don't know. I feel 25 when we win, but I feel 75 the next morning. So I don't know. It kind of balances itself out I think. Sometimes you feel pretty good and sometimes you don't. We're just out here doing what we love."
DOES IT JUST COME DOWN TO STILL HAVING THE PASSION? "You know, things change as you age and for me I have had good fortune from the racing standpoint to not have the passion not diminish any or the willingness to do what it takes to be the very best you can possibly be. So those are a couple of the things that have really helped me.
DO YOU FEEL MORE BUMPS AND BRUISES NOW THAN YOU DID TWENTY YEARS AGO? "No, but I do feel stiffer and stuff but from crashes, bumps and bruises.........no."
ON HOW MUCH A DRIVER GETS BEATEN UP DRIVING THROUGHOUT THE SEASON. "That varies. It varies on the kinds of hits you take. For me, you take that shot and you wear that shot for a while. Someday fortunately that goes away. But the wear and tear of just the burnout is actually bigger and is a bigger deal than the bumps and bruises. Some things linger for a long, long time. But a lot of the stuff goes away in a month or so.
"Jeff (Gordon) is experiencing a problem that lasts years, not months. And you know, I have been through that and many other drivers have been through that as well. They last a lot longer, especially the lower back problems."
HOW MUCH DO YOU TALK WITH JEFF GORDON ABOUT THOSE LOWER BACK PROBLEMS? "Only a little. His problem is different than mine. That we have determined, so I don't have the world's greatest advice. I'm not an expert about his problem, I'm an expert about my problem. (Laughs)."
DO SOME THINGS DEVELOP OVER THE YEARS THAT ARE CHRONIC? "I don't know if it's you know, who knows. It's all I have done since 1974. It's all I have done. I don't know how much my problems that I have today have to do with the racing and how much have to do with being 50. It would be hard for me to answer."
THERE ARE A FEW DRIVERS IN THE CHASE THAT DON'T HAVE A WIN. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR IF YOU DON'T HAVE A WIN? AND DO YOU THINK CARL EDWARDS WITHOUT A WIN; IS STILL A THREAT TO WIN THIS THING? "Anybody that makes the Chase can win the Chase. It only takes a ten race roll. The guys that look like today they could do that are obviously Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson but everybody in it can. It doesn't matter. Those wins, you saying that word, you don't need them.
I don't know how to explain it to you but it doesn't matter. If you are in the Chase you can win the Chase. Because you haven't run the races yet and after the races are all over with and someone out performs you ten times then you can't win. But until they do, everyone in it is capable of putting together a roll that would do that.
I think the year that Kurt Busch won it; it was a little bit like that. He was on much more of a roll than he was prior to the Chase beginning. And that is what it took."
ON JIMMIE JOHNSON SAYING THAT SOMEONE WILL HAVE TO WIN A RACE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. "Anything can happen. What do you think is going to happen? I think it will be multiple wins. What could happen? Anything. It can be done."
ON WHETHER THE DRIVERS ARE DRIVING THIS CAR MUCH HARDER THAN THE OLD CAR BECAUSE IT'S SAFER? "I don't really think so. I don't think that is it. I think they are driving harder, but I don't think it's because of the car, the safety of the car, or anything like that. It's because it's what you have to do. You just have to do that, you have to do that today."
WHY IS THAT? "It's because if everybody does it, you have to do it or you are left out."
IS IT BECAUSE OF THE ECONOMY, ARE SOME GUYS DRIVING TO SAVE THEIR CAREER AND TO KEEP SPONSORS? "There are all different factors of why people drive like they do. It always has been and always will be. Some people drive over their head because they are about to lose their job and some drive over their head because they haven't learned to do that yet and every the scenario under the sun.
Some drive hard because they are broke and some drive hard because they want more. There are all different ways and all different reasons why people do what they do so I don't think you can determine and boil it down to one thing.
The competition is more fierce than it's ever been and you have to drive hard and if you don't drive hard, all the guys that do are going to drive by you because their cars are about as good as yours is."
SO YOU DON'T FEEL MORE BULLET PROOF BEHIND THE WHEEL AS YOU USED TO WITH THE OLDER CAR? "I don't. But you are only talking to one of 43 though. I know I don't. I feel the same. I don't want to wreck anymore now than I used to."
-credit: gm racing