Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, is tied with Dale Jarrett for the most NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series wins at Michigan International Speedway among active drivers with four. Martin, who is third in the point standings, talked about...
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, is tied with Dale Jarrett for the most NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series wins at Michigan International Speedway among active drivers with four. Martin, who is third in the point standings, talked about why MIS is such a favorite.
MARK MARTIN -- No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion
IT SEEMS MICHIGAN IS THE OPPOSITE OF POCONO WHERE YOU CAN JUST GET THE CAR RIGHT AND NOT WORRY ABOUT THE TRACK SO MUCH. "Yes, it is. Maybe it's because I've had more success here than some people, but it seems like it is as simple as you put it. It's straightforward, let's just go out here and get this car right and everything is gonna be fine. You're less handicapped by horsepower here. You're less handicapped by some things that you can't control and you're more handicapped by your own abilities and your car's abilities and your ability to work with your team to fix that car. It's always been more in my hands here than most race tracks of this size -- my hands meaning mine and my crew. You go to a restrictor plate race track or a Pocono race track or at Indy, and if it won't run on the straightaway, it won't run on the straightaway. It's over. All you can do is make the best of an ugly situation. Here, if it doesn't run on the straightaway, if you make it handle and stay on the tires, you will pass those guys. That's a breath of fresh air for example. Now I don't have to deal with that anymore because we've got some giant motors, but that's just an example of how it is in the worker's hands here."
THIS TRACK IS ALWAYS AT THE TOP OF THE DRIVER'S LIST FOR FAVORITE TRACK. "Yeah, it is. You're not limited to one groove. Martinsville is so frustrating because what you have is what you have and that's it. Here, it's not the end of the world. What you have is like, 'Well, let's just see what we can do with it up here,' or, 'Let's go down there and see what we can do with it.' It's not over once you have a problem with the handling characteristics. It isn't death to the effort like it will be at a place that you're confined like, let's say, a Martinsville."
WILL 400 MILES HERE SEEM LIKE A SPRINT COMPARED TO 500 MILES AT POCONO? IT CAN BE A LONG DAY THERE. "Yes, but you know we have the ability to make even a 400-miler take a long time (laughing). I'm gonna be careful with what I say (laughing). I'm hoping this feels like a sprint race."
A YEAR AGO WE WERE WRITING RETIREMENT STORIES AND NOW YOU'RE DOING SO WELL IN A COUPLE OF SERIES. WHAT'S UP?
"I'm so busy that I can't even think about 2007, so I have no idea what 2007 brings and don't even care about 2007 right now. I've got a lot on my plate, the most I have ever had in my career, and we're trying to make the most of it. We're focused on what's right here in front of us and trying to make the chase and make another run at the championship. We'll worry about 2007 when I get all of that taken care of."
LOOKING BACK ON HOW IT'S WORKING OUT, ARE YOU HAPPY ABOUT COMING BACK? "I'm happy with everything about 2006, especially the opportunity to work with AAA and teen driving safety and seat belt issues and things like that. I am regretful for the intensity of my schedule. If I had to do it over again and had the flexibility to say what I would and wouldn't do, I would have cut some things out."
DID YOUR FAMILY HAVE A BIG SAY IN YOUR DECISION? "They supported this."
AT THE START OF THE YEAR YOU DIDN'T KNOW HOW YOU WERE GOING TO REACT TO COMING BACK. DO YOU FEEL THAT CHAMPIONSHIP FIRE STARTING TO BURN A BIT?
"I have a problem of overdrive. My tendency is to want it too much and to work too hard and to push too hard and accept nothing less. That's me. I was concerned going into Daytona because on media day at Daytona I still didn't give a flip. Unfortunately, I blasted right through that and on into probably as bad as I've ever been on intensity and it's taking a lot of effort from me to try to contain my intensity and not let it run or spill over into a negative or deficit. My challenge since Phoenix has been to not push this thing over into the destructive side of it and to be brutally honest with you, I am right on the edge. Anyone that would ever question needs to look at that and say, 'The guy has lost his mind.' I'm on the chip. I'm on the rev limiter. I've been working hard to try to stay off of it. We have shown, to this point, that we have the capability of being a championship contender if we can just get all the stars lined up. It's not a long reach. It's not a far-fetched deal. It's not a long reach. The kind of performance we've had on the race track at places like Dover and Phoenix and Atlanta, and some of these places, shows the promise that if we can just get it all lined up and keep emotions in check and keep our eye on the target, that it gives us that chance and that hope that if we do wind up in the chase, which things are headed in the right direction if we can keep it going that way, we can have a chance. That's all I ask for. I don't ask for a Cup, I ask for a chance at the Cup."
DOES RUNNING THE TRUCK SERIES GIVE YOU A DIFFERENT OUTLET FOR THAT INTENSITY? "It helps me keep things in perspective and keeps me having fun. I was having a blast up until May and then when we hit the stretch in May it became a little bit of overload with testing three weeks in a row and running all those races and doing all the things that we have to do off the race track. It got to be too much of a good thing for me, so when I get to climb in that truck it's sort of a release or an outlet for everything, where I can just go race and not worry about all those other things and not worry about whether or not we make the chase or score a point. Let's just go race and have fun and it's been real good therapy for me. I'm having a good time with it."
DO YOU GET TO HELP MATT WITH HIS CAREER AS MUCH AS YOU WOULD LIKE? "No."
HOW DISAPPOINTING IS THAT FOR YOU? "I just don't have time for that right now. I don't have time for the emotions that are associated with it. I'm keeping my focus where my family is concerned -- on them -- not on his racing, but on being able to absorb my last chance to hang out with him while he's 14 and we're making the best of that and it's really, really, good. There's just not quite enough of it."